‘I’m Comfortable With Zero’: Manchin Reportedly Willing To Tank Reconciliation To Avoid Overspending

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is reportedly willing to scrap the reconciliation bill entirely rather than accept a number that he believes is too high.

According to a report from Axios, Manchin told independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – who would have preferred a $6 trillion social spending bill but negotiated down to $3.5 trillion – that he was comfortable with not passing the reconciliation bill at all. (RELATED: Manchin Reportedly Outlines Demands For Democrats Climate Change, Child Tax Credit Plan)

Democratic Montana Sen. Jon Tester recounted the conversation, which occurred during a Wednesday lunch. “Joe said, ‘I’m comfortable with nothing,’ Bernie said, ‘We need to do three-and-a-half [trillion dollars].’ The truth is both of them are in different spots,” Tester said.

Tester went on to say that he believed Manchin would rather do nothing than agree to a higher number than the $1.5 trillion he has floated as acceptable. He added that Manchin had punctuated his stance by forming a zero with his thumb and forefinger and saying, “I’m comfortable with zero.”

Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons described the situation in much the same way, also noting that Manchin had held up his hand to form a zero. He said that Manchin preferred not to do it it at all.

“This will contribute to inflation. We’ve already passed the American Rescue Plan. We should just pass the infrastructure bill and, you know, pause for six months,” Manchin said, according to Coons.

Manchin may be willing to follow through on his threat, which could force the far left back toward the center if they want to get anything at all passed.

“Does Manchin really want $0 or $1.5T? We’ll never know,” freelance write and podcaster Bill Scher concluded.