Sen. Joe Manchin remained noncommittal Tuesday regarding support for President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social spending and climate bill.
The moderate West Virginia Democrat told The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit that he remained concerned about inflation and the length of programs in the legislation.
“The unknown we’re facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we’re looking at,” Manchin said. “We’ve gotta make sure we get this right. We just can’t continue to flood the market, as we’ve done.
“We’ve done so many good things in the last 10 months, and no one is taking a breath.”
Lawmakers are racing to pass Biden’s massive legislation before a Christmas deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., needs everyone in his caucus to support the bill so it can pass with a simple majority via reconciliation. Fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has joined Manchin in expressing concerns about the legislation.
Manchin represents a state that former President Donald Trump won by 40 points in 2020.
Trump has attacked Republicans who helped Biden pass $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for “incredibly giving the Democrats a two-month [debt ceiling] extension, which allowed them to get their act together” on the larger spending plan.
“Now the Republicans start fighting a much harder war, and I told them this would happen,” Trump said Tuesday in a statement. “It’s pathetic!”
Manchin on Monday said that Biden’s spending plan, known as the Build Back Better Act, needs “a lot of changes.”
“I’m not skeptical. I’m just basically a realist,” Manchin said, Breitbart reported. “There’s an awful lot there, and a lot of changes to be done, and you’re throwing it at a time when it’s very vulnerable in our economy.”
He added that he didn’t know ”how you control inflation when the first year of spending is going to be quite large.”
Any spending legislation that passes the Senate likely would be different than what the House approved. The bill then would need to go back to the House for final passage before Biden can sign it into law.
Democrats insist the legislation is paid for fully and point to reports from Moody’s Investors Service and others projecting no major inflation impact, the Journal said. Republicans say the bill is wasteful and could fuel inflation.
Senators are talking with the nonpartisan parliamentarian to find out what provisions can comply with reconciliation, the Journal reported. Items related to immigration and drug pricing could be at risk of being left out.