Sen. Joe Manchin threatened to block President Biden’s climate change and infrastructure package unless Republicans have more of a voice in the negotiation process than they did with the coronavirus stimulus bill.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia who has emerged as a critical swing vote in the narrowly divided Senate, said he would use his position as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee to hold up the legislation unless the GOP has input.
“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” he told “Axios on HBO” in an interview that aired Sunday. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start trying.”
Senate Democrats used reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority, to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan on Saturday by a party-line 50-49 vote.
Democrats hold a majority in the 50-50 divided Senate because Vice President Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, can break ties.
Asked on Axios whether he thinks he could get 10 Republicans on board the infrastructure bill to reach the 60 votes needed under normal Senate rules, Manchin said: “I sure do.”
Manchin, 73, who delayed the coronavirus stimulus bill for hours last week because of his opposition to a $15 minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits, said he’ll ensure the tab for the infrastructure bill is completely paid for.
It is estimated to cost between $2 trillion and $4 trillion
The senator from red state West Virginia said he’s concerned with the country’s debt levels and worried about “a tremendous, deep recession that could lead into a depression if we’re not careful. … We’re just setting ourselves up.”
Manchin said he would back tax increases, including upping the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 21 percent, and repealing “a lot of” the tax cuts for the wealthy passed during the administration of former President Donald Trump to pay for it.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday, Manchin said he opposes ending the filibuster because it would kill bipartisan cooperation, and would want to make it more “painful” when it is used.
“If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin said. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”
The filibuster requires a 60-vote margin to end debate on a bill and move toward a vote.
He warned Democrats to be careful about how they wield their majority rule.
”I would say this to my friends. You’ve got power … don’t abuse it. And that’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you throw the filibuster out,” he said.