Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) declined to say Monday whether he would back Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s vow to force the Biden administration’s nearly $2 trillion social spending bill through the chamber by Christmas.
“I think what we need to do is just really look at the bill, what we have right now, what came from the House and that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon,” Manchin told reporters.
House Democrats narrowly passed the spending bill earlier this month, despite an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showing that it would add $367 billion to the budget deficit over 10 years.
Manchin added that he had concerns about how the massive spending package would affect inflation, which is currently ravaging the US economy.
“[I’m] really concerned about the high gas prices, I’ve been trying to talk to a lot of different people with knowledge about that, and the inflation that is going on and what the forecast is for that,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are hurting. I heard an awful lot over the Thanksgiving break that, you know, the prices were high and people were very much upset about that and they’re concerned about that and if inflation is going to get worse.”
Manchin declined to say Monday whether he would even vote to open debate on the bill, reiterating that he would have to “see what what we have” before making a decision.
The legislation, known as the Build Back Better Act, would expand social safety net programs like Medicare and provide paid family leave — which Manchin opposes addressing in a partisan measure — as well as free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and hundreds of billions of dollars for environmental programs.
However, the measure is likely to be amended before the Senate votes on it due to concerns raised by Manchin and fellow moderate Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Earlier Monday, Schumer (D-NY) vowed to bring the package to the floor “so we can pass it as soon as possible and send it to the President’s desk.
“Our goal continues to be to get this done before Christmas,” Schumer added.
Senate Democratic leaders need to hold the entire caucus together to get the bill through the evenly divided chamber using the reconciliation process, which allows them to bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster threshold.
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