Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, center, speaks to media representatives after meeting with Texas Democrats outside his hideout office in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Senator Joe Manchin just made it clear that the Democrats still have a lot to do to get his vote on their sprawling economic plan – and to keep President Joe Biden’s agenda from collapsing.

The West Virginia Democrat called on party leaders Thursday to “pause” their deliberations on a massive $ 3.5 trillion spending bill. The Democrats want to pass the measure, which would invest in climate policy and social programs, in the coming weeks without Republican support.

Manchin voted to pass a $ 3.5 trillion budget decision last month, the first step in the reconciliation process that will allow Democrats to move forward without the GOP. It was then that he and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Signaled that they would oppose the final bill if the price tag was not cut.

Manchin went a step further on Thursday, calling for a “strategic pause” to move the plan forward. In a comment in the Wall Street Journal, the senator cited concerns about inflation and debt.

“For my part, I will not support $ 3.5 trillion or even close to that amount of additional spending without it becoming clear why Congress is ignoring the grave effects of inflation and debt on existing government programs,” wrote Manchin.

The Senator didn’t rule out voting for a smaller bill. He concluded the article by stating that “by strategically pausing this budget proposal, by significantly reducing the scope of a possible law of reconciliation to what America can and must spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families.”

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Manchin’s stance complicates the already chaotic efforts of the Democrats to pass their spending plan and a bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill. If the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., loses Manchin or any other member of his faction, the legislation will fail.

Meanwhile, efforts to appease Manchin could come into conflict with progressives in the House of Representatives who want their party to spend more than $ 3.5 trillion to fight the climate crisis and strengthen the social safety net. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, cannot lose more than three Democratic votes for the plan.

Pelosi has postponed a final vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill to keep centrists and liberals on board on both economic proposals. It has undertaken, without obligation, to vote on the infrastructure plan by September 27th.

The Democrats may already be taking steps to address Manchin’s budget concerns. Pelosi has said that she would like the legislation to be paid for in full and has insisted that the House of Representatives will only approve a bill that can get through the Senate.

The Democrats also seem to admit they need to write less than $ 3.5 trillion bill to get it through the Senate. Legislators have stated that, among other things, they want to increase taxes for businesses and the wealthy and increase enforcement of existing tax rates by the IRS to offset expenses.

Manchin’s call for a delay will anger many in his party who have called for long overdue Congressional action to combat climate change. The budget proposal would use subsidies and other incentives to encourage green energy adoption, electrify buildings and homes, and make infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather conditions.

The recent wildfires in the western United States and floods in the southern and northeastern states, exacerbated by climate change, have only compounded Democratic calls for the spending bill to be passed.

Schumer spoke on Thursday from a New York City, where hours earlier rainwater had poured into subway tunnels and paralyzed local public transport, Schumer called it “essential” to pass the infrastructure and climate laws.

“Woe to us if we don’t do something about it quickly, both in building resilient infrastructure and in clean electricity, be it in homes, in electricity, in transportation, to stop global warming, or at least its dire effects on the environment to reduce this land, “he said.

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