Senator Joe Manchin’s (DW.Va.) very public campaign against parts of President Joe Biden’s platform upsets his fellow Democrats as they work to craft ambitious legislation that includes monthly payments to parents, a universal preschool, a free community college and a paid family leave.
Over the weekend, Manchin reiterated his stance against a bill totaling $ 3.5 trillion, swearing in an interview with CNN that Democratic leaders “won’t get my vote on 3.5.” The senator cited concerns about the federal debt and inflation as reasons for reducing the size of the package. He declined to stress his preference for the upper spending limit in the bill, however.
“You have to ask, what would you get out of the package?” Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Said when asked about Manchin’s position. “Frankly, I think it’s extremely important that we take care of affordable child care, affordable higher education, that we deal with paid family and medical leave. There are costs associated with it, but I think the end result for our economy is positive. “
Dick Durbin, the second Senate Democrat, told reporters he had “no idea” what the bill would ultimately look like, given the differences within his caucus. “We have work to do,” added the Illinois senator.
Democrats cannot afford to lose a single voice if they are to pass the bill in a special process known as reconciliation, which allows them to avoid obstruction. Manchin and other moderates who agree with him therefore wield inordinate influence in the equally divided Senate. This means that any comment Manchin makes that can be interpreted as a threat to Biden’s proposals – whether it’s on the climate or childcare – instantly becomes fodder for reporters to annoy lawmakers in the halls of Congress. .
“I can’t just respond to everything Joe Manchin says – it’s not my job,” frustrated Senator Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) complained to a group of reporters on Monday.
Heinrich, who advocates including strong funding in the reconciliation bill to deal with the growing problem of climate change, declined to answer when asked about Manchin’s latest comments opposing robust provisions on climate change.
In addition to opposing certain climatic provisions of the bill, Manchin expressed unease with his level of spending on elderly care as well as monthly allowances for parents. Manchin voted for the US bailout, which started the payments as a means of relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but now suggests the program should include work or education requirements.
“Don’t you think that if we want to help children, people should make an effort? Manchin asked in an interview on Sunday.
But his colleagues noted that restricting the number of people who would benefit from such programs would hurt Manchin’s own voters in one of the country’s poorest states.
“Everything we talk about affects West Virginia as much, maybe more, than my state of Connecticut. Hope this is something that will be meaningful to him, ”Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Told HuffPost.
Democrats are proposing to maintain monthly payments until 2025 as part of their reconciliation plan. It’s unclear, however, if the program will continue in its current form with moderates like Manchin insisting on the changes.
“My personal view is that it would be counterproductive for the kids who need help the most,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) When asked to add requirements for work on family allowance programs.
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