Sen. Joe Manchin Makes Big Announcement About Budget Framework


West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday that his party “should” be able to compromise on a framework for its spending package this week, potentially clearing a path forward for both the budget and infrastructure bill after months of delay.

“As far as conceptually, we should. I really believe that,” Manchin told reporters Monday.

Both Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with President Joe Biden in Delaware on Sunday in an effort to finalize the budget, a mammoth bill that Democrats hope will address long-sought priorities such as child care, paid leave and climate change.

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Biden and Democratic leadership have said they are close to reaching a compromise that hopefully would bring all in the caucus on board, giving it enough support to pass on party lines.

Manchin has long objected to the budget’s original $3.5 trillion price tag and reiterated Monday that his maximum is $1.5 trillion instead.

“We’re all working in good faith,” he said. “I’ve been talking to everybody, as you know. I think we’ve got a good understanding of each other — better than we ever have.”

Schumer told reporters Monday that “three to four outstanding issues” remained on the budget but said Sunday’s meeting was productive and that “a lot of the bill is written.”

While opposition from Manchin and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has narrowed the budget’s size and scope substantially, left-wing Democrats have gained leverage by vowing to oppose the Senate-passed, bipartisan infrastructure bill.

They initially insisted that Congress first pass the budget, but Democrats hope that agreeing on a framework will be enough for the House to pass the infrastructure package by Wednesday, allowing Biden to sign it before he leaves for Europe on Thursday.

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One sticking point, however, is the proposed Medicare expansion that would allow it to cover vision, hearing and dental. Manchin said he was not yet on board with the plan, even though others in his party, such as Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, are calling it non-negotiable.

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“My big concern right now is the 2026 deadline (for) Medicare insolvency,” Manchin said, according to The Hill. … “Medicare and Social Security (are) a lifeline to people back in West Virginia — most people around the country. You’ve got to stabilize that first before you look at, basically, expansion. So if we’re not being fiscally responsible, that’s a concern.”

Manchin also has opposed parts of Democrats’ proposed extension of the child tax credit and plans to fight climate change, frustrating those left of him who see the budget as a rare opportunity to adopt large-scale policy given their congressional control.

“I’ve always said that I believe that government should be your best partner,” Manchin said Monday. “But it shouldn’t be your provider.”

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