Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made the rounds on the Sunday shows this week, further underscoring the infighting that was going on last week when it comes to the $3.5 trillion budget. This is mostly to do with the price tag--which the senator made clear he will not compromise on--and the urgency involved.
While speaking with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," Manchin emphasized the need for "a strategic pause," as he mentioned earlier this month in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, reported on by Reagan. This is something he reminded he's "been very clear" on.
Manchin discussed such a pause with how it comes down to his concern for a sense of "urgency" as well. He'd rather take time to hash it out more so. "So the urgency, I can't understand why we can't take time, deliberate on this, and work," he told Stephanopoulos. It was also a request he'd echo while speaking with Dana Bash on "State of the Union."
A particular headline grabber, which will leave us without a budget then if the Democrats and Sen. Sanders can't come together, is that Manchin is firm he will not support the $3.5 trillion price tag.
"No," he told Chuck Todd while appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," emphasizing how he "cannot support $3.5 trillion, okay? No, okay." He later in that segment reaffirmed he is "a hard no" when asked by Todd if he was. Todd followed up by asking if there was a number he could support, though Manchin mentioned "I haven't looked at that," as he discussed his concerns with the tax code with Todd and on other programs.
In previous reports, though, and when speaking to Bash, Manchin suggest it would perhaps be $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion, though what he stuck to most was that "it's not going to be at 3.5, I can assure you."
Tellingly, Manchin also told Bash that Senate Majority Leader (D-NY) "will not have my vote" on that price, and that Schumer "knows that, and we have talked about this."
.@DanaBashCNN presses Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin on why he doesn't support the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) September 12, 2021
Sen. Chuck Schumer "will not have my vote on the 3.5," Manchin says. pic.twitter.com/LBfgafxkPT
Beyond basic fiscal responsibility and the commonsense concept of transparency, Manchin had what is the best answer to any proposal, something he has mentioned before. It's that he must be able to explain to his constituents to vote for it. As a senator from West Virginia, it needs to be reminded that Manchin is responsible to the residents of that state, while Sen. Sanders is responsible to the residents of Vermont.
The relevant exchange between Todd and Manchin went as follows, as the host tried to put the senator on the spot as to if he would be "the lone vote" against such a hefty budget:
Are you going to be the lone vote against President Biden’s agenda?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN:
Well, I don't think that I am the lone vote. And I think you know that too.
Right. But would you be willing to be the lone vote?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN:
I've said this. If I can't go home and explain it, I can't vote for it, okay --
And right now, you don't think you can explain it?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN:
I can't explain what we're doing now.
Predictably, Sen. Sanders was equally as stubborn on the price.
The two senators also raised concerns over the fate of the infrastructure bill. President Joe Biden himself caused massive confusion and concern when he indicated, hours after reaching a deal, that the infrastructure bill and the budget were tied together. He tried to walk back those remarks days later. The infrastructure bill was able to pass with bipartisan support while the budget deal doesn't have any support from Republicans.
When discussing Sen. Manchin's concerns that they were "hold[ing] this bipartisan infrastructure package hostage to the reconciliation bill," Sanders claimed it was Manchin who was doing so.
Sanders throughout his appearances made it clear that the bills are being worked on "in tandem" and "go together." When speaking with Bash, he expressed that "at the end of the day, I believe we're going to pass them both."
It's also worth noting that while none of these shows discussed Sen. Manchin's commitment to the Hyde Amendment, such a budget rider which protects taxpayers from having to pay for elective abortions is not even included in the budget. There has been no break in Republican ranks that no member will support the budget without it. And, with Manchin's commitments as a pro-life Democrat, one must have to believe that he will not support the budget, lest he go back on his word.