Manchin tells Democrats to ‘quit playing games’ with Biden agenda as White House says it can win him over

Holdout Virginia Democrat insists he has been negotiating ‘in good faith’

Eric Garcia
Monday 01 November 2021 20:52
Manchin tells Democrats to ‘stop playing games’ with Biden agenda
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Senator Joe Manchin urged the House to vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill he helped usher through the Senate while the White House remained confident it could win him over.

Mr Manchin called a press conference on Monday afternoon and criticised what he called “mischaracterisations” about his position, noting he has negotiated “in good faith” with President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill,” he said. Specifically, he said he has consistently made clear he would not support legislation that would add social programmes that would contribute to the national debt.

The comments come as many progressive Democrats in the House have said they would not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill without a commitment from Mr Manchin on the social spending bill.

“It is time to vote on the BIF bill, up or down and then go home and explain to your constituents the decision you made,” he said. The Senate had previously voted on an infrastructure bill, sometimes called the “BIF” in August on a bipartisan basis.

But many progressives have said they need a hard commitment from Mr Manchin and fellow conservative Democrat Sen Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona that they would support the social spending bill, which includes plenty of liberal priorities and would pass through a process called budget reconciliation bill, which requires only 51 votes.

Democrats currently only have 50 Senate seats, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaker, meaning they would need every Democrat to support the legislation.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released a statement saying the White House was confident it could win over Mr Manchin.

“The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests — it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing,” Ms Psaki said. “As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin’s support.”

The White House released a framework for a $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill on Thursday, which features plenty of priorities

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