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The delicate political balancing act of passing infrastructure laws through a divided Senate caught a snag on Thursday when Senator Joe Manchin said he was unwilling to commit to passing a progressive law accompanying the new $ 6 trillion spending could achieve.
“It sounds extremely, extremely high for us to take on so much debt,” Manchin told reporters on Thursday to signal that he is not yet on board with this two-pronged approach.
West Virginia Democrats have been working with Republicans on a smaller, bipartisan infrastructure deal they plan to bring to the White House Thursday to fund more traditional types of projects like roads and bridges. But to get that narrow package through the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said he would tie this bill to a second, much broader, spending package that only needs Democratic support through a process called budget reconciliation.
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In a 50:50 Senate split, the trick is that all Democrats would have to sign the larger package backed by Senator Bernie Sanders, the chairman of the Budgets Committee. Sanders, I-Vt. and progressives want a big investment in social safety net programs, including an expansion of Medicare, and want to tax the rich and the richest corporations to pay for them. But if Manchin does not get on board, that could sink the two-pronged plan.
“We have to see what’s on the other plan before I can say, ‘Oh yes, you are voting for it and I will be voting for it,'” Manchin said in the Capitol on Thursday. “I haven’t signed up for that. I want to sign up for what makes sense in the plan, keeps us competitive and also takes America’s needs into account.”
The problem is that if progressives don’t commit to fulfilling their larger wish-list, they won’t sign the bipartisan deal that moderates like Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Advocated.
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Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Said she needed an “iron” promise from the Atonement Act to vote for an infrastructure compromise. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., On Thursday named the bipartisan package Manchin wanted “too small” and “pitiful” and insisted that a second package was needed to focus on human infrastructure.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, have both said that progressives and moderates must approve both packages for everything to go through as they both have a low Democratic majority in their chambers.
These two bills are “linked”, affirmed Schumer on Thursday.
“We won’t get enough votes to pass both unless we have enough votes to pass both.”
Pelosi on Thursday also made it clear that one cannot do without the other: “There will be no infrastructure law unless we have passed the US Senate’s reconciliation law,” she said during a press conference.
However, Manchin said he hoped his liberal counterparts weren’t too quick to reject the smaller bipartisan deal.
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“Please don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Manchin told reporters at the Capitol. “We are doing so much good in this legal text.”
Fox News’ Jason Donner, Caroline McKee, and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.