(Headline USA) Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Thursday that Congress should take a “strategic pause” on more spending.
He also warned that he does not support President Joe Biden’s plans for a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget that drastically expands the definition of infrastructure and would push already painful inflation past the breaking point for many.
“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,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.
“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.”
Democrats had hoped to use the budget appropriations process as a back-door procedural ploy to pass new welfare entitlements, Green New Deal investments and amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants including so-called Dreamers, agricultural workers and those, including Afghanis, holding Special Immigration Visas.
Manchin has long been a holdout against the topline amount, $3.5 trillion, even though he voted last month to approve a budget resolution that set the figure.
However, his pointed opposition was stronger than his past statements and touched on a litany of concerns including national security. His refusal to support the bill would effectively kill it in the evenly-split Senate, where Republicans remain steadfast in opposition.
Congress is away on recess, but Manchin’s remarks are sure to be seen as an attempt at gaining leverage as lawmakers work privately to draft the package. The House and Senate are negotiating the details ahead of consideration and possible votes, expected when they return later this month.
Also expressing opposition to the massive budget is fellow moderate Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
Dropping the price tag will infuriate members of the liberal flank in Congress who have pressed for an even more robust package and have tired of catering to party moderates.
Manchin, though, has almost relished the attention he commands.
“While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions,” he wrote.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press