Manchin Confirms $1.5 Trillion Is His Top-Line Spending Number For Reconciliation Package, Says Biden Wants More

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin confirmed Thursday that he proposed a $1.5 trillion maximum spending number for the reconciliation package Democrats are trying to pass.

Manchin, a key holdout to the hefty $3.5 trillion bill, proposed a $1.5 trillion deal to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer over the summer, Politico reported Thursday. Manchin has been openly critical of the spending bill, advising members of his caucus earlier in September to “hit the pause button” and raising concerns over its price tag.

While it’s long been reported that Manchin’s top line falls far below the $3.5 trillion proposal, Thursday’s reporting revealed that the Democratic senator compiled a physical one-page document outlining his ideal cost as well as various conditions.

Manchin’s document suggested raising the corporate tax rate to 25% and raising the top tax rate on income to 39.6%, according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the document. Manchin and Schumer signed the document, which noted that the former lawmaker “does not guarantee that he will vote for the final reconciliation legislation if it exceeds the conditions outlined in this agreement.”

Schumer wrote a note on the document vowing to “try to change Joe [Biden] on some of these,” Politico reported. (RELATED: ‘The Definition Of Fiscal Insanity’: Manchin Slams Reconciliation Price Tag, Demands Hyde Amendment Reinstatement)

Manchin confirmed the number to reporters Thursday, and said Biden is aware of his $1.5 trillion top-line. This is the first time the senator shared the number publicly with the press.


Manchin noted that the president wanted “a lot more than” that. The White House has been evasive on whether Manchin or Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another holdout, had given Biden a solid number that they’d accept for the package.

“I would point you again to Sen. Sinema and Sen. Manchin,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. “We knew that it would be a compromise, and that’s exactly what it is. And as you know, the President has spent a great bit of time, relatively so, but given nothing more precious than the time of the President of the United States over the last two days engaging with each of these senators about the path forward. But I would leave it to them to describe what they’re comfortable with.”

Manchin also said that if Democrats want a higher price tag, they should get more progressives elected.

“For them to get theirs, elect more liberals. I’m willing to come from 0 to $1.5,” Manchin said.