In what may prove to be a fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) last week wrote a pointed op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he called for a “strategic pause” on additional new federal spending, as the Associated Press reports.
In the piece, published on Thursday, Manchin explained his belief that while there is no doubt that the nation is contending with an “unprecedented array of challenges,” he takes issue with his colleagues who seem to believe that “there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future.”
The senator, who often represents the necessary swing vote required for the passage of many of his own party’s initiatives, went on to suggest that “Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation.”
Manchin’s stance presents a serious problem for Biden and his party, given that they cannot spare a single vote if the sweeping bill championed by Biden is to pass, given the 50-50 split in the Senate, which would necessitate a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris even if no Democrat defections occurred, as no Republicans have expressed any willingness to support it.
Making his position clear, Manchin declared in his op-ed, “I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs.”
Not surprisingly, Manchin’s resistance to trillions in spending drew the hyperbolic ire of lawmakers on the far-left flank of his party, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) responding to his op-ed by attempting to blame him for 12 New York City flooding deaths stemming from Tropical Storm Ida.
“Manchin has weekly huddles w/Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills,” AOC declared, adding, “It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation.”
Fellow member of the progressive “Squad,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), also lashed out at Manchin’s plea for fiscal restraint, saying, “Instead of writing op-eds, why don’t you look into the faces of my residents who have had their basements flooded with sewage multiple times and their power out for days,” an apparent reference to the infrastructure spending comprising part of the reconciliation package.
Though Biden himself has repeatedly attempted to divert attention away from the disaster in Afghanistan by touting his “Build Back Better” agenda of which this so-called “human infrastructure” spending is a major part, it appears that without Manchin’s support, those efforts may – mercifully – be all for naught.