After already passing an eye-watering $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill with no support from Republican senators, the Biden administration is poised to begin its push for another massive spending package in the coming days, but this time, things might not go quite as smoothly.
Centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that if President Joe Biden’s sweeping new infrastructure bill is not structured in a way that attracts at least some support from Republicans, he will block its passage, according to Fox News.
Manchin told Axios earlier this month that he will insist that GOP colleagues are afforded a more significant role in crafting the legislation than they had with regard to the COVID-19 relief measures passed via the budget reconciliation process in which only a simple majority is required. No Republican senators signed on to the most recent stimulus package, which squeaked through on a vote of 50-49.
The West Virginia Democrat, who wields a great deal of influence as a frequent swing vote on key legislative measures, indicated that Republican involvement was a prerequisite for his own support of such a bill, saying, “I’m not going to do it through reconciliation. I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start.”
According to the Associated Press, Biden is hoping to see his behemoth plan passed this summer. The so-called “Build Back Better” package, parts of which will be unveiled this week, is reported to include programs designed to fight climate change, prompt a resurgence of domestic manufacturing, and make “generational” investments in infrastructure.
For his part, Manchin has signaled support for this type of multi-trillion dollar infrastructure spending that would necessitate taxes raises to pay for it, but he wants to ensure that it does not significantly add to the nation’s deficit. “As long as it’s paid for. We need this country to rebuild itself,” the senator declared, according to Fox Business.
Members of Manchin’s own party are currently deliberating over whether it is necessary to seek bipartisan agreement on infrastructure spending or if they will simply go the budget reconciliation route once more, sidestepping the need for consensus. Notably, Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Maine Sen. Susan Collins have already balked at some of the tax hike provisions that have been floated thus far, as Fox Business further noted.
Manchin continues to play a pivotal role in the fate of a number of controversial legislative proposals, including the Senate version of H.R. 1, the massive – and highly controversial – electoral overhaul that passed in the House earlier this month. The bill stands little chance of succeeding in the upper chamber unless Democrats take the incendiary step of eliminating the filibuster rules, a move for which Manchin’s support is required.
Though Manchin has long provided assurances that he does not support ending the filibuster, it remains to be seen whether he has the fortitude to resist the increasingly loud drumbeat and high-pressure tactics from leaders in his party to do just that.