Manchin to Dems: Hit 'Pause' on Biden's $3.5 Trillion Plan

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Manchin won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, 'or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity…'

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Democrats should hit "pause" on President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending package, sending a significant warning shot at Biden and Democratic congressional leaders’ top legislative priority.

     Manchin concerned about ‘runaway inflation.’ During remarks this week at a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce event, he pointed to concerns about “runaway inflation,” the delta variant of the coronavirus and a botched withdrawal in Afghanistan to float slowing down what is the centerpiece of Biden's economic agenda. "If the country is facing what we're facing now. ...I would ask my colleagues and all of the Senate to hit the pause button on the $3.5 [trillion]," Manchin said at the event on Wednesday. "Let’s sit back. Let’s see what happens. We have so much on our plate. We really have an awful lot. I think that would be the prudent, wise thing to do."

     Manchin also penned similar comments in a Wall Street Journal op-ed item (link). "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. A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not," Manchin wrote in the 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," Manchin added. 

     Knowing how Democratic colleagues will react, Manchin said: “I know they're going to go nuts right now ... because what I said is going to all my caucus in Washington. "But I'm thinking of it from the standpoint of where we are as a nation today."

     Comments: The key line from Manchin’s op-ed: “I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity…” Now to define what “anywhere near that level” means. One veteran congressional observer emailed me this response: “I’m buying you a five-course dinner wherever you want if anything remotely close to this package is enacted. By remotely close I mean anything in excess of a trillion dollars.” Another contact said: “No bets on this… This is in for a very, very long debate that may die of its own weight….” We will have more on this development in Friday's Policy Updates



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