Sen. Joe Manchin gave Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a drastically lower topline number for the hotly debated multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package being pushed by President Biden, according to a new report — after repeatedly vowing to not support the $3.5 trillion price tag.
In late July, Manchin (D-WV) and Schumer (D-NY) came to an agreement to start a debate on the budget reconciliation “no earlier than October 1, 2021,” with a topline of $1.5 trillion, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by Politico.
According to the outlet, Manchin has been distributing the agreement to his Democratic colleagues to show that he delivered his own terms on Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda.
Both senators signed the agreement, which outlined several spending conditions related to “families and health” and “climate.”
“Senator Manchin does not guarantee that he will vote for the final reconciliation legislation if it exceeds the conditions outlined in this agreement,” the agreement states.
The report comes as House Democrats scramble to pass the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal. Democratic progressives have said they will not pass the infrastructure deal unless they have an agreement for passage of the massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
Moderates like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and progressives like caucus leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have signaled their willingness to kill both in recent days.
On Wednesday, Manchin asserted that he would not support $3.5 trillion in social spending, reiterating his calls for Democrats to pause the process. Sinema too has said the price tag is too high.
“Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party. Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party, must ask the simple question — how much is enough?” he said in a statement.
Following Manchin’s comments, Jayapal told reporters that she believes his remarks sparked more progressives to attempt to block the bipartisan bill, signaling that it would be dead on arrival in the House.
While progressives have vowed to vote against the infrastructure deal if the reconciliation package is not passed first, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assured Thursday’s vote on the bipartisan bill would move forward, saying, “we are on a path to win the vote.”
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