‘The Definition Of Fiscal Insanity’: Manchin Slams Reconciliation Price Tag, Demands Hyde Amendment Reinstatement

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin threw more cold water on the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act on Wednesday night, criticizing the price tag and threatening to kill it unless it included the Hyde amendment, which prohibits the federal funding of abortion.

“Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” he said in a statement. Manchin later told National Review that the Build Back Better Act will be “dead on arrival” in the Senate if its Medicaid expansion does not include a ban on federal funding of abortion. He is one of the last pro-life Democrats still in Congress.

Manchin has called for a “strategic pause” on new federal spending, and privately suggested that Democrats wait until 2022 to pass the Build Back Better Act.

The pause would give Congress “time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation’s fiscal situation before we spend more,” he wrote, while describing the package as “designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation.”

“I cannot—and will not—support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces,” Manchin added. “America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies.”

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on Thursday, and left-wing Democrats in the Congressional Progressive Caucus are threatening to block it due to a lack of agreement on the reconciliation package. (RELATED: Omar Calls Manchin And Sinema ‘Republicans’ Amid Reconciliation Showdown)

Caucus chairwoman and Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal has said that “more than half” of her 95 members are prepared to vote against the IIJA unless Democrats can come to an agreement on the Build Back Better Act.

Jayapal reiterated her threat in response to the statement, telling CNN that Manchin “just probably created at least a bunch more votes on the House floor against a bipartisan bill.”

“I assume he’s saying that the president is insane, because this is the president’s agenda,” she added.