Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said his initial $6 trillion infrastructure proposal was “probably too little” and said the current $3.5 trillion social spending package “should be a minimum.”
“The $6 trillion that I originally proposed was probably too little. Three and a half trillion should be a minimum. But I accept that there’s going to have to be give and take,” Sanders said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” referring to the plan he proposed over the summer.
“Poll after poll shows what we are doing is exactly what the American people wants. It’s not what the big money interest wants, not what the lobbyist wants. It’s what the American people want,” said Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats.
Moderate and progressive lawmakers within the Democratic Party have been at loggerheads over a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and the $3.5 trillion social spending package. The bill as it stands now includes progressive programs such as tuition-free community college, expanded Medicare, and a universal preschool program.
Despite the intraparty fighting, Sanders said, “we’re going to win this thing,” adding that the American people are “very, very strongly on our side.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were set to vote last week on the two bills, which make up central pillars of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
At the week’s beginning, Biden confidently predicted passage — after all, Democrats effectively control both the House and the Senate, which had already passed the infrastructure bill by a vote of 69-30.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Biden acknowledged his economic plan “has been very much curtailed by a whole range of things” and would take some time, but said both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and Democrats’ budget bill needed to be enacted.
But it didn’t take long for everything to go askew. Progressives in the House vowed to oppose the infrastructure bill if the benefits package was trimmed — a threat they’d make good on by week’s end. The House never voted on the packages.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been Biden’s key vote in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between the two parties. But on Wednesday, the moderate delivered a fatal blow to the president’s massive spending plan, saying that the bill was the “definition of fiscal insanity.”
Manchin said that every member of Congress has a duty to do what is best for the country and not their party, noting that he has stated for months that he cannot support $3.5 trillion in more spending.
“At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question – how much is enough?” Manchin said. “What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.”
“Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford – not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending,” Manchin said.