After weeks of saying he wouldn’t vote for an infrastructure bill that wasn’t bipartisan, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin now says he’s willing to vote for another infrastructure bill that would be passed via reconciliation.
He said he’d been assuming since “day one” that there would be a second infrastructure bill and that Democrats would get no Republican support for it because it would change the Trump tax cuts.
“We’re going to have to work it through reconciliation, which I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount, because I haven’t seen everything that everyone is wanting to put in the bill,” Manchin said on MSNBC.
Someone should be standing by with smelling salts once Manchin sees the dollar amount Democrats want to spend.
In addition to any infrastructure projects that Republicans didn’t want in the recently agreed to bipartisan deal, the Democrats’ proposal envisions trillions of dollars for climate change, day care, Medicare expansion, and other social programs that would be funded in Biden’s American Families Plan. Democrats plan to combine their climate change initiatives that were originally in the president’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill with the families bill. This could be as much as $6 trillion.
Democrats are still in the early stages of trying to figure out how big to go in a Democratic-only infrastructure bill. But they have no room for error in the Senate, where they need all 50 of their members and Vice President Harris to pass an infrastructure bill under reconciliation.
And Manchin has long been viewed as the biggest hold out on greenlighting a Democratic-only bill.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed going as high as $6 trillion, but that figure has garnered pushback from other Senate Democrats, including Manchin, who believe it is too high.
Sanders and the left knew the GOP would never go for any climate change language in the bipartisan bill. That’s why the reconciliation bill will be full of climate initiatives that will probably cost most West Virginia coal miners their jobs.
What will Manchin tell them if he supports the destruction of the coal industry, which would be the practical effect of Biden’s climate change agenda?
Manchin is banking on all the other goodies in the reconciliation package to offset the pain caused by climate change initiatives. But even West Virginia Democrats, seeing their sensible, moderate senator vote for a $4 or $6 trillion dollar bill when the federal budget deficit already tops $4 trillion for the year, might think twice about supporting him again.
That reconciliation package with the climate change initiatives would still be in trouble in Congress no matter what. Energy state Democrats would be very nervous about voting for a bill that banned oil shale development on federal lands or banned fracking altogether. And there are many members who simply don’t want to do anything “transformative” — especially if it comes from the socialist wing of their party. A sizable portion of Democrats (although probably not a majority) will resist this violent lurch to the left from the Sanders wing of the party.
But when it comes to supporting a Democratic president, they will likely fall in line.