Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema could push for big cuts to the Democratic $3.5 trillion spending plan to overhaul the economy
Escrito por Pedro Mejia el agosto 11, 2021
- Senate Democrats are pushing for at least $3.5 trillion in spending to overhaul the economy.
- But they may crash into resistance from moderates like Sinema and Manchin.
- They may need to cut the price tag of their spending plan to keep them onboard.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Democrats advanced a $3.5 trillion spending blueprint on Wednesday, laying the foundation for a major anti-poverty push aimed at locking down a key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda in the months ahead.
But the image of all 50 Senate Democrats supporting the budget resolution quickly gave way to fresh disagreements within their caucus about the size and scope of the legislative package. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key swing vote, released a statement only three hours after the vote concluded saying he had «serious concerns.»
«Given the current state of the economic recovery, it is simply irresponsible to continue spending at levels more suited to respond to a Great Depression or Great Recession – not an economy that is on the verge of overheating,» he said in the statement.
The West Virginia Democrat isn’t the first to object to the size of the spending package. He joined Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another moderate Democrat, in raising alarm about the price tag. «I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion,» she said in a statement last month.
Their reluctance underscores the difficulty that Biden and other Democratic leaders will face in keeping rank-and-file Democrats in lockstep behind the nascent spending plan using their paper-thin majorities in the House and Senate. It may foreshadow cuts to the price tag to keep everyone onboard.
It’s a reality that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged later on Wednesday. «What we’re doing here isn’t easy, we’ve labored for months and months to reach this point, and we have no illusions – maybe the hardest work is yet to come,» he said. «But we are united in a desire to get it done.»
The budget blueprint is proceeding along a special legislative path known as reconciliation. That track requires only a simple majority vote for passage instead of the 60 typically required in the Senate. But all 50 Senate Democrats are probably needed to clear the plan with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris over what’s very likely to be unanimous GOP opposition.
The spending plan introduced Monday would expand Medicare so it insures dental, vision, and hearing coverage. It would also set up a national paid family and medical leave program as well as tuition-free community college, a child allowance, and initiatives to combat the climate emergency. Democrats also intend to include a pathway to citizenship for some unauthorized immigrants living in the US.
Manchin has often veered from one position to another in a possible effort to increase his influence over the legislative process, similar to his successful drive to cut the amount and duration of federal jobless aid in the stimulus law. Earlier this year, he said he could back $4 trillion in infrastructure spending as long as it’s paid for. He now appears to be backtracking from that.
The proposal is already lower than what some progressives have sought. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chair of the Budget Committee, was the chief author of the budget resolution. He initially wanted $6 trillion in new spending, but ultimately settled on $3.5 trillion – still a massive amount after Congress approved $6 trillion in emergency spending to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite that compromise, Sanders is touting the spending plan as «the most consequential piece of legislation for working families we’ve seen since FDR and the New Deal.» Manchin and Sinema may very well play a decisive role determining whether that comes to fruition.