Manchin to House Dems: Don't hold infrastructure bill 'hostage' to budget reconciliation

"It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage," said Manchin.
Image
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
Joe Manchin Morgantown, West Virginia, June 03, 2021.
(Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is putting some pressure on House Democrats to get the $1.2 trillion so-called bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor for a vote. 

Nancy Pelosi's chamber is back in session this week, and the speaker is negotiating between Democratic moderates, who want the infrastructure win, and progressives, who don't want a vote on infrastructure until the much larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation effort is ready.

On this issue, Pelosi sides with the progressives.

Manchin, however, noted that the Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill without yet having a blueprint for the spending bill.

"The House should put politics aside and do the same," he said in a statement. "With so much uncertainty in the world today, one thing is certain, we must unite and pass a critical priority of the American people — improving our nation's infrastructure.

"It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage. I urge my colleagues in the House to move swiftly to get this once in a generation legislation to the president's desk for his signature." 

The House is hoping to approve the budget resolution and get out of town early this week. Democrats returned to D.C. on Monday, cutting into their August recess to resolve the big bill issue. 

The problem now for Pelosi is that she may lack the votes she needs to pass the budget resolution that will lead to the $3.5 trillion spending plan. She is currently locked in a standoff with a group of nine moderate Democratic lawmakers who, like Manchin, want to see the infrastructure bill brought to the House floor immediately. The speaker can afford to lose just three votes when she brings the budget resolution to the floor, which she is expected to do Tuesday. 

Centrist Senate Democrats, including Manchin, who clocked the bipartisan infrastructure bill as a win, are assessing the possibility that tying the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation may lead to a scenario in which neither piece of legislation survives.

For that reason, Manchin is making this plea to the House, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) said today that she "will not support a budget reconciliation bill that costs $3.5 trillion" and therefore is asking that the bipartisan bill be "considered on its own merits."