Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has opposed the $3.5 trillionspending package that would enact most of US President Joe Biden’s social-spending agenda, citing concerns about higher inflation, debt and the inevitability of future crises.
“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted Manchin, a moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia, as saying in an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
“An overheating economy has imposed a costly ‘inflation tax’ on every middle- and working-class American. At $28.7 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels,” Manchin said, believing that the US economy currently doesn’t need the support of proposed trillion dollars in new spending.
“While my fellow Democrats will disagree, I believe that spending trillions more dollars not only ignores present economic reality, but makes it certain that America will be fiscally weakened when it faces a future recession or national emergency,” he said.
Manchin noted that Congress should “hit a strategic pause” on the budget-reconciliation legislation, as a pause would provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic and help determine whether inflation is transitory or not.
“By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families,” he said.
Along with the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, Democratic leaders have been seeking to advance the $3.5 trillion spending plan using the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority to pass the legislation.
With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats must keep moderates on their side, and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the deciding vote.
Manchin’s opposition means that Democrats haven’t secured enough votes to pass the spending package in the coming weeks.