- Manchin doubled down on his insistence to fully finance a Democrat-only infrastructure package.
- “I think we’ve put enough free money out,” he said, citing the federal response to the pandemic.
- Manchin’s support is critical for Democrats in an evenly-divided Senate.
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Sen. Joe Manchin is ruling out borrowing money to finance a party-line infrastructure package as Senate Democrats deliberate the range of tax increases that would be needed to pay for President Joe Biden’s agenda.
‘I think everything should be paid for now,” he told reporters. “I think we’ve put enough free money out.”
Manchin later told reporters on Tuesday he would only back an infrastructure package that was fully financed by tax revenue, adding, “How much debt can y’all handle?” He wants to do this with tax increases, though he favors less aggressive measures than Biden put forward such as a smaller corporate tax bump.
“I think we’ve incurred over 28 and a half trillion dollars of debt and I’d like to start paying for it,” he told reporters, referring to the national debt that the US government has accumulated over several decades.
Senate Democrats are still negotiating the final price tag of an infrastructure plan that only requires a simple majority vote, allowing Democrats to skirt Republicans under a legislative pathway known as reconciliation. But they need every Democratic senator to back a party-line package given the 50 -50 Senate and their tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.
On reconciliation, Democrats are undertaking a delicate balancing act to find an amount that satisfies progressives who want to spend big and moderates like Manchin who want to fully finance it with tax increases.
“We’re trying to move as quickly as we can,” Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a key player in the talks, told Insider. Talks that began last month could stretch into late July, with passage of a bill sometime in the fall.
The national debt has grown at least $6 trillion over the past year in the wake of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, since multiple federal rescue packages were approved. Still, many economists and the Federal Reserve say that now is the time for Congress to take advantage of low interest rates — which make it cheaper to borrow — and repair the economy.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that he was seeking a package that was over $3.5 trillion. He argues the package presents Democrats with an opportunity to overhaul the economy in a scale unseen since the 1930s.
“Childcare, clean energy, family care, we know what we need,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told reporters. “We’ve got to get to a topline number that will support that.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer alluded to the potential potholes that lie ahead on Tuesday.”It is not going to be easy, but it is certainly going to be worth it,” he said.