Just days after telling CNN that he does not plan to be a “roadblock” to President Joe Biden’s planned multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is reportedly “ramping up” discussions with Republicans for a competing, scaled-down infrastructure package.
The Hill reports that Manchin is deep in discussions over “what a scaled-down infrastructure package should look like, and some GOP senators are even optimistic that the moderate Democrat can be persuaded to block efforts to raise the corporate tax rate.”
The Biden plan addresses a wealth of issues, including many that are not traditionally thought of as “infrastructure” — and to pay for the multi-trillion-dollar package, Biden expects to hike taxes on high-income earners, investors, and corporations. A proposed capital gains tax hike, designed to target those making more than a million dollars per year, would nearly double the tax rate and could cripple investment in specific sectors, like technology.
On Sunday, Manchin told CNN that he is “not a roadblock at all” to Biden’s efforts, but that he would like a “more targeted” bill, focused on funding traditional, physical infrastructure improvements, with a second, separate $400 billion bill funding things like a Medicare expansion.
“I do think they should be separated,” Manchin told the network. “Because when you start putting so much into one bill, which we call an omnibus, it makes it very, very difficult for the public to understand.”
Regardless of whether he views himself as a roadblock, Manchin does remain an obstacle to passing the infrastructure package through reconciliation, the arcade, heavily limited process by which a simple majority can pass a bill through the Senate, provided it is related directly to a budget issue.
Without Manchin, Democrats fall at least one vote short of a simple majority, and that could severely impact their ability to pass the multi-trillion-dollar package without Republican input.
“Senate Republicans proposed a $568 billion infrastructure counteroffer last week. Now, bipartisan talks on a compromise proposal between $600 billion and $1 trillion are just getting started,” The Hill added.
“For the sake of our country, we have to show we can work in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said Monday evening, per The Hill. “I don’t know what the rush is.”
“Stay here a little bit, work a little bit,” he added.
Democrat leaders, like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), are increasingly worried that Manchin will stall the infrastructure bill for so long that they may not have time to pass other top Biden White House priorities before the end of 2021 and the start of the mid-year Congressional campaigns.
“Time is not on our side. We have so many things to do,” Durbin told The Hill. “Immigration, policing. All of these things are critical elements and we don’t have a lot of time on the calendar.”
“The sooner the better to keep everything together and move it in a package that works,” Durbin said, clearly referencing Biden’s bill as the “package that works.”
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