Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin blasted the legislative process surrounding the Build Back Better social spending package during a Monday press conference at the Capitol.
“Speaker Pelosi urged the importance of voting [on] and passing the BIF [bipartisan infrastructure framework] bill before the president took the world stage overseas, and still no action. In my view, this is not how the U.S. Congress should operate,” Manchin said. Biden introduced the latest iteration of the Build Back Better package on Thursday ahead of a meeting with the entire House Democratic Caucus in hopes that left-wing and moderate members could come to an agreement and pass both pieces of legislation.
However, the Congressional Progressive Caucus continued to block the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in June. Moderates like Manchin, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger have called on the House to pass the infrastructure package before turning to the social spending bill.
Half the size of the initial bill proposed by Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the $1.75 trillion package includes federally-funded preschool for three- and four-year-olds, as well as $555 billion in green energy tax credits and direct investments. The White House claims that this scaled-back offer will not add to the national debt, and will be paid for by a 15% minimum tax on large corporations, a 1% surcharge on corporate stock buybacks, and a new surtax on multi-millionaires and billionaires
Manchin expressed skepticism that the Build Back Better Act would not impact the debt, however, citing “shell games” and “budget gimmicks” that could lead to the package costing more than double its top-line amount. He added that the bill could be a “recipe for economic crisis,” noting its potential impact on inflation and the national debt. (RELATED: ‘The Definition Of Fiscal Insanity’: Manchin Slams Reconciliation Price Tag, Demands Hyde Amendment Reinstatement)
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Manchin said of the negotiation process.
He also called out the left-wing of the Democratic Party for whom “compromise is not good enough,” telling them that holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, “hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.”
“It is time to vote on the BIF bill up or down, and then go home to your constituents and explain the vote you’ve made,” he said.
Manchin also appeared to demand a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score on the Build Back Better Act. The CBO can not score a piece of legislation until it is fully introduced.
Repeatedly noting that he would not negotiate in public, Manchin declared that “it is time to pass the [bipartisan] bill and quit playing games,” before exiting the press conference.