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Turns Out Manchin Wasn't Serious About His Top-line Number For Spending Package

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted last week that the highest number he’d agree to on a massive spending bill is $1.5 trillion—a position he’s held since the summer. A memo he sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dated July 28, 2021 set out his conditions, including this figure. 

Progressives have openly laughed at the number, however, while others said it’s a complete nonstarter

Now, the West Virginia Democrat appears to be changing his tune. 

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesday signaled he is open to a budget reconciliation bill in the ballpark of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion, above the limit he set just last week of $1.5 trillion.

Manchin and his fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are still far apart from liberals such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who thought the upper chamber had a deal to spend $3.5 trillion on President Biden’s human infrastructure package, but the two sides are inching closer.

“I’m not ruling anything out, but the bottom line is I want to make sure that we’re strategic and we do the right job and we don’t basically add more to the concerns we have right now,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday. (The Hill)

The price tag isn't the only sticking point for Manchin, however. He's also demanding that the reconciliation bill include the Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for abortion. If it doesn't, he warned the package is "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

Additionally, Manchin has said natural gas "has to be" included in the Clean Electricity Performance Program.. 

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