On Sunday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), the Senate’s most vocal moderate, again insisted that he wouldn’t support the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan, the Biden administration’s most ambitious bill. He went further to sauy that he wouldn’t support even half that amount.

As the Senate is divided 50-50, Democrats have no votes to spare if they want to pass Biden’s comprehensive “Build Back Better” plan by budget reconciliation.

The Senate has previously passed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill with a bipartisan vote, in which more than ten Republicans voted for the bill.

If Democrats lose Manchin’s vote, the bill would not have the simple majority needed to pass.

“I cannot support $3.5 trillion,” Manchin said Sunday. “We should be looking at everything, and we’re not. We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting, or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” he said.

When repeatedly asked about a maximum he could support, Manchin said, “It’s going to be $1, $1.5.” 

“The numbers that they’re wanting to pay for and the tax changes they want to make, is that competitive? I believe there’s some changes made that does not keep us competitive,” the centrist Democrat added.

Following Manchin’s remarks on Sunday, President Joe Biden has once again said he is determined to pass the bill.

“With my Build Back Better Agenda, we’re going to cut middle class taxes and lower the cost of living — all funded by making the wealthy pay their fair share for a change,” Biden tweeted Monday. “It’s time we give hardworking Americans — the backbone of this country — a fair shot to get ahead.”

Earlier this month, Manchin wrote in the Wall Street Journal opinion section that his party should hit “a strategic pause” on the legislation, rejecting the idea of “artificial political deadlines” to advance it.

“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 at that time. “Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation.”

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