Manchin demands infrastructure vote; holds off support on spending bill

Politics

US Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, looks on during a press conference as he talks about his position on US President Joe Bidens sweeping economic agenda on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 1, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday demanded that the House take up the Senate-passed bipartisan  infrastructure bill immediately while making it clear he’s not yet ready to support a separate social and climate spending bill. 

Manchin, who called a press conference at the Capitol on Monday, railed against House progressives, accusing them of holding the infrastructure bill, which he helped negotiate, “hostage” and warned that the tactics won’t force him to commit to the separate $1.75 trillion spending bill before he is ready. 

“The political games have to stop,” Manchin said. “Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.” 

Manchin’s comments come after the House failed to have a vote last week on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill — again — amid pushback from progressives, who believe that it needs to be moved with the reconciliation package that is expected to carry new funding for healthcare, education, childcare and other priorities. 

It marked the second time that House leadership had canceled plans to hold a vote on the bill amid progressive pushback, and the decision to yank the bill came hours after President Biden tried to rally the House Democratic caucus.  

Manchin’s comments on Monday are likely the polar opposite of what progressives were hoping to hear from their moderate colleague. Progressives want a commitment from Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on the contents of the spending package.

But Manchin on Monday made it clear that he’s not yet ready to back the spending bill and warned Democrats against rushing before they know the costs of the bill. House Democratic leadership is eyeing a vote on the reconciliation package this week, which would likely bring it to the floor without a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score.  

“I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward. But I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country,” Manchin said. 

This story is developing and will be updated.

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