Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is likely to vote for a $3.5 trillion spending package in the end despite his current opposition to its price tag – that’s according to a top White House official and a Senate colleague who place his latest comments within a predictable cycle that ends with him lining up with Democrats.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain said in a CNN interview on Sunday that Manchin is “very persuadable,” and that his concerns about the rising debt and inflation can be addressed through the package’s tax hikes on wealthier Americans.
Klain also shrugged off the notion Manchin’s rejection of the $3.5 trillion price tag dooms the bill, telling host Dana Bash that if he had a nickel for every time someone told him the package was dead, “I would be a very, very rich person.”
Manchin’s stated opposition to the package, which is expected to include spending on social programs including Medicare expansion, universal pre-K and other longtime liberal priorities, is that it will overheat an already fast-growing economy and doesn’t take into account issues like debt and inflation.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on CNN that Manchin has “many times, been willing to get to a place that’s the right place to be,” noting that he voted to pass Democrats’ $1.9 trillion stimulus bill along party lines in March despite his initial opposition.
Klobuchar added that she was “not surprised” by Manchin voicing his opposition to the spending package because “this was going to be a tough negotiation,” but reiterated he “gets to the right place.”
51. That’s the number of votes the spending package needs to pass the Senate in a process called budget reconciliation, which allows certain fiscal legislation to be passed without the 10 Republican votes typically needed to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Still, in a 50-50 Senate, Democrats will need the votes of Manchin and other moderates like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who has also balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag.
“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs,” Manchin wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday.
Klobuchar said she is also pushing Manchin and Sinema to support a carveout to the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold for voting rights legislation, a key demand of civil rights leaders. “I’ve talked to Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema – there’s not that many senators – and that’s what we’re doing,” she said, adding that Manchin has “signaled interest” in a standing filibuster, which requires senators to physically stand up and speak in order to stall legislation.
What To Watch For
Senate moderates are in something of a standoff with House progressives, dozens of whom are threatening to try to tank a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal strongly supported by Manchin if it’s not paired with an adequate amount of reconciliation spending.