Manchin Refuses to Endorse Safety Net Bill, Dampening Hopes of a Quick Vote

WASHINGTON (AP) – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III all but dashed hopes of a snap vote this week on President Biden’s national agenda, saying Monday that he would not endorse a $ 1.85 trillion climate and social policy package. dollars without enough time to consider its financial and tax ramifications. .

During an appearance on Capitol Hill, Manchin, a crucial swing Democrat vote, condemned liberals in the House who have refused to vote a separate vote. Bipartisan $ 1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan without a final agreement on the national policy plan, saying his tactics won’t pressure him to buy into his serious reservations about the safety net measure.

His comments dumped cold water on House Democratic leaders’ plans to quickly complete talks on the safety net bill and bring both measures to a vote this week, leaving the fate of the two top priorities of the House up in the air. Biden again. They also undermined the president’s claim that an outline of the social policy and climate plan he presented last week had the backing of all 50 Democratic and independent senators.

“While I have worked hard to find a path to compromise, it is obvious that compromise is not good enough for some in Congress,” Manchin said, reading prepared remarks. “It’s all or nothing, and his position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything. Enough is enough.”

He reiterated a demand to see details and a fiscal accounting of the impact of that bill, criticizing elements of an emerging compromise outlined by Mr. Biden last week, which was largely negotiated to win Manchin’s vote.

“Holding that bill hostage is not going to work to get my support for what you want,” the senator said of the infrastructure legislation. On the social policy package, he added: “I am open to supporting a final bill that helps our country move forward, but I am equally open to vote against a bill that hurts our country.”

In a statement, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the legislation being negotiated in the House met Manchin’s demands that the plan address inflation, create jobs and be fiscally responsible.

“The plan that the House is finalizing meets those tests: it is fully paid, it will reduce the deficit and reduce the costs of health care, child care, elderly care and housing,” he said, adding that “as a result, we remain confident that the plan will win the support of Senator Manchin. “

Democrats need the support of all 50 senators to get the legislation passed, and all but a few of their members in the House. They are pushing the social safety net bill in Congress over unanimous Republican opposition through a special budget process known as reconciliation that protects such legislation from obstructionism.

Manchin’s comments came as progressive Democrats had abandoned their demand that the Senate pass the reconciliation bill before they agreed to vote on the infrastructure plan. They made it more likely that those liberals would insist on a firm commitment from Mr. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another key moderate, before moving forward.

But some prominent progressives said they would carry on even without such guarantees.

“I am a ‘yes’ to the infrastructure and the White House framework for the broader bill when they meet in the House,” said Representative Ro Khanna of California. “I trust the judgment of the president and the speaker and the word that they will bring these votes when they have all 50 senators on board. I remain confident that we can work out the remaining details to bring our party together and deliver this week. “

Top Democrats spent the weekend feverishly working to resolve the latest sticking points, including a desperate offer to negotiate a plan that could help address the high costs of prescription drugs.

Jonathan Weisman contributed to reporting.

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