Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is poised to play a critical role in President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.
The influential Democratic centrist nearly derailed passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package when he pressed for a last-minute cut to federal unemployment benefits. It sent Democrats scrambling to secure his support for 12 hours – they eventually agreed to a reduction.
With Democrats essentially needing to pass major legislation via reconciliation – which requires all 50 members of the parties to vote in favor – Manchin remains the swing vote on infrastructure.
Manchin now holds major sway in ongoing bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. He’s pushing both parties to strike a deal over the objection of fellow Democrats and progressives who view the talks as alternately a waste of time or something that could produce a significantly watered-down bill.
On Tuesday, Manchin opened the door to a Democrat-only package. He’s largely held back from offering policy specifics, but here’s an overview of what Manchin seeks from a new economic spending bill:
On Tuesday, Manchin offered some of his clearest rationale yet behind why he wants to raise corporate taxes in an interview with NBC News:
“Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on not changing anything, and I thought the 2017 tax bill was a very unfair bill, and weighted to a side that basically did not benefit the average American. So I voted against it. I think there are some adjustments that need to be made.”
Manchin chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which The Hill first reported is slated to mark up a 423-page legislative draft aimed at strengthening the nation’s energy infrastructure on Thursday. It contains provisions to boost electric grid resiliency as well as the energy efficiency of housing and commercial buildings.
It remains unclear how much of Biden’s education, healthcare, and childcare initiatives Manchin will ultimately embrace. His office declined to comment earlier this month on whether the West Virginia senator supported the permanent expansion of the child tax credit.
But the Democrats’ pivotal swing vote looks like he may be ready to make a deal.
Bipartisan negotiations on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package are poised to stretch into next week as lawmakers struggle to resolve key disagreements on how to finance it.
Democrats are pushing for a multitrillion-dollar package that would provide cash benefits to parents and set up universal pre-K, along with upgrades to roads and bridges – all paid for with tax increases on rich Americans and large firms.
But Senate Republicans are starting to believe that striking a deal with President Joe Biden on an infrastructure plan could torch the rest of his economic agenda, particularly some of those tax hikes and his planned social initiatives.
“I think if we can agree on an infrastructure package that’s paid for, we should,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told Insider. “But the Democrats want to do more on what I would call non-infrastructure and I assume they’ll try and do that in reconciliation.”
He went on: “The biggest challenge they have right now is not Republicans, it’s Democrats disagreeing on the use of reconciliation for that purpose.”
At least one senior Republican shared the assessment that Democrats’ use of the party-line approach could face a rocky path ahead, as all 50 Democrats in the Senate would have to remain united on a separate plan.
“It’ll be awful hard to get those moderate Democrats to be for that,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranked Senate Republican, told reporters on Monday. “The stars are kind of lining up for an infrastructure bill. And if you do do something bipartisan on that, then I think doing something partisan on reconciliation – in some ways, with certain Democrats – it gets a lot harder.”
Progressives are pushing for Democrats to scrap the talks so a massive package can be approved without Republican support. In an interview with Insider last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York singled out national paid leave and affordable childcare as the pair of initiatives most at jeopardy of being dropped from the talks entirely.
Those liberals are at odds with centrist-leaning Democrats who want the discussions to continue. Some have already expressed unease with Biden’s tax hikes on the rich to finance new programs – which could potentially cut the scope of a follow-up package. Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Bob Menendez favor scaling back Biden’s tax increase on capital gains, Politico reported.
“I know there needs to be reconciliation,” Warner told reporters on Thursday. “But that also doesn’t mean that I accept all of what the president has proposed.”
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a key Biden ally in Congress, said he favors striking a deal with Republicans if possible, but he also backs a separate party-line bill which he acknowledged has no margin of error.
“I am equally determined to move ahead with a reconciliation package that will delivers on Biden’s boldest policy proposals and I think it is possible for us to do both,” he said in a recent interview. “But it’s going to take a lot of coordination in our Democratic caucus.”
Instead, Biden put forward a 15% minimum corporate tax as a possible solution, a source familiar with the discussions told the Post. That tax would take aim at corporations paying little to no taxes. Biden has previously cited a report from the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy indicating 55 major American companies paid nothing in federal income taxes in the past year.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The move represents a sharp break from Biden’s previous fiery rhetoric on the need for increased corporate taxes; Still, some centrist Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia are pushing for a rate closer to 25%, rather than 28%. Biden wants to offset his proposed infrastructure spending with tax hikes on corporations and the country’s highest-earners.
Republicans last week led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia pitched an infrastructure plan with only a modest amount of new spending above what Congress has already approved. Both parties are at loggerheads over the size and scale of the package, along with how to pay for it. Republicans are seeking to finance their spending with coronavirus relief money, which Democrats are rejecting.
It also comes amidst a push by the US to enact a global minimum corporate tax rate, which would seek to standardize taxes for multinational companies and prevent them from fleeing to countries with lower levies. The latest figure reported for that rate is also 15%, not the expected 21%.
The White House also reportedly wants to increase tax enforcement on corporations and high-earners.
“It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers,” Biden previously said in a speech defending the corporate tax rate increase. “We’re going to try to put an end to this. Not fleece them – 28%. If you’re a mom, a dad, a cop, firefighter, police officer, etc., you’re paying close to that in your income tax.”
Capito and Biden are scheduled to speak again on Friday.
The past seven days has been the toughest stretch yet for Bidenomics – the product of President Joe Biden’s ambitious effort to slash entrenched economic inequalities through major spending on infrastructure, childcare, clean energy, education, and cash benefits.
The lackluster April jobs report fueled Republican criticism of a labor shortage, prompting at least 17 red states to announce they will start pulling out of federal unemployment programs in June. Then a sharp rise in inflation heightened concerns that consumer demand is outpacing supply in various economic sectors, pushing prices up for goods like used cars, airline tickets, and recreational activities.
Meanwhile, a gas shortage is pummeling many Americans in the southeast just ahead of Memorial Day, following a cyberattack shutting down an important pipeline that supplies fuel to the East Coast.
Yet the White House says it’s not getting knocked off course as it pursues $4 trillion in new federal initiatives to overhaul the economy, with Republicans stepping up their attacks.
“We have consistently shared our expectations that inflation would rise, and we’ve also stressed why we thought that would occur,” a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Insider. “No one expected it would be smooth or easy to reopen our economy, and we have anticipated disruptions as we slowly work towards the recovery.”
“I think the president’s team deserves criticism for not diagnosing the problems correctly,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former economic aide to President George W. Bush, told Insider.
Holtz-Eakin said “demand is outstripping supply” and cited shortages of materials like computer chips. He added a related issue is that fewer Americans are in the workforce, arguing federal unemployment benefits are “part of that story, not all of it.”
This supply-demand imbalance has led to soaring prices, especially for used cars. “Inflation is always a supply issue,” Holtz-Eakin said. “To simply throw more money at it is not a solution.”
‘The trend is our friend’
Biden advisors argue the economy is demonstrating signs of healthy progress after a year of crushing restrictions, unemployment, and business closures. Despite April’s big jobs miss of just over 266,000 jobs regained, they say 500,000 jobs have been created on average in the past three months.
“We’re making good progress,” Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, said at a news conference on Friday. “However we must keep in mind that an economy will not heal instantaneously. It takes several weeks for people to get full immunity from vaccinations, and even more time for those left jobless from the pandemic to find and start a suitable job. Supply chains have been disrupted and sectors hardest hit are just beginning to come back.”
“The trend is our friend, moving steadily in the right direction,” White House economist Jared Bernstein told Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Many economists cautioned against misinterpreting the 4.2% rise in consumer prices last month – the largest monthly increase since 2008 – given it was measured from a year earlier. Prices plummeted in April 2020 as businesses closed their doors and people sharply cut their spending, so the resulting increase appears larger which many experts had been forecasting.
But former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who has consistently criticized the scale of Biden’s spending, is not one of them. “I was on the worried side about inflation and it’s all moved much faster, much sooner than I had predicted,” Summers told Bloomberg. “That has to make us nervous going forward.”
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said he expects inflation to subside later in the year.
Despite the recent tremors, Democrats remain confident that they will be able to secure passage of Biden’s economic proposals, financed with tax hikes on high-earning Americans and large firms.
“It’s way too early to say that this job recovery won’t continue robustly,” Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, chair of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress, said in an interview. “I believe it’ll take until August that we get a House bill over to the Senate that’s dealing with the potential tax increases, so there’s still a lot of time to figure out what’s happening in the economy.”
The first is a $2.3 trillion spending plan devoted to highways and roads, in-home elder care, domestic manufacturing and clean energy. The other is a $1.8 trillion package focused on cash payments for families, free community college, affordable childcare, and paid family and medical leave.
Beyer said “there isn’t any anxiety about the spending plans” among Democrats he’s spoken to, though they’re open to a deal with the GOP that would likely diminish the size of a package.
“Politics is the art of the possible. We’re not going to be angry at a President Biden who ends up finding a compromise ground that 10 Republicans can live with,” he said, referring to the number of GOP votes in the Senate that Democrats need for a proposal to clear the evenly-divided chamber.
Biden could strike a spending deal with Republicans
The White House is in the midst of negotiating with Republicans on the $2.3 trillion package known as the American Jobs Plan. With Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stamp of approval, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia is steering the talks on the Republican side with an initial $568 billion offer. Only a third of it is new federal spending.
On Thursday, Biden described it as “a genuine effort,” and added “I think we can get there” as a two-hour meeting with Capito and a group of Republicans got underway.
“It was a very positive meeting,” Capito told Fox News on Friday. “We’re going to go back to the president early next week with another offer that, in light of the conversation that we had, trying to seek that bipartisan agreement.”
Both parties remain far apart on the price tag of a plan and even defining what makes up infrastructure. Republicans are pushing to constrain it to only physical transportation and communications, while Democrats want to include robust safety net spending on childcare and education.
The White House is walking a tightrope when it comes to pushing a potential deal through a 50-50 Senate and narrow House majority. Many Democrats are calling for a large infrastructure package with large new investments, given their full control of Washington’s levers of power.
They are also wary of dragging out negotiations when they have the ability to approve a wide range of the spending plans in reconciliation, a tactic to approve a budgetary bill with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, is kicking off infrastructure hearings later this month. He said there’s “a lot more work to do to climb out of the deep economic hole the pandemic created.”
“Control of both chambers of Congress and the presidency is rare, and it’s critical that Democrats do all we can with this opportunity to make real progress for the American people,” Wyden said in a statement to Insider. “While it would be our hope that we can do much of what the president outlined on a bipartisan basis, it’s much more important to get things done for the American people.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell drew a $600 billion red line for an infrastructure and jobs plan on Monday, an amount less than a fifth of the $4 trillion in economic spending plans that President Joe Biden has unveiled.
“We’re open to doing a roughly $600 billion package, which deals with what all of us agree is infrastructure and to talk about how to pay for that in any way other than reopening the 2017 tax reform bill,” he said at a press conference at Louisville, Kentucky.
The Senate’s top Republican flatly rejected going above the $600 billion price tag, saying “if it’s going to be about infrastructure, let’s make it about infrastructure.”
“I don’t think there will be any Republican support – none, zero – for the $4.1 trillion grab-bag, which has infrastructure in it but a whole lot of other stuff,” McConnell said. He also ruled out adjusting President Donald Trump’s tax law, a measure Biden wants to roll back to pay for his plans.
“We’re not going to revisit the 2017 tax bill,” he said. “We’re happy to look for traditional infrastructure pay-fors, which means the users participate.”
McConnell’s comments underscore the wide bridge between Republicans and Democrats on their economic priorities. Their ability to cut a deal will depend whether they can agree on methods to finance a package as well as its overall scope. Democrats are calling for aggressive spending while Republicans insist on narrowing a package’s focus.
Biden has proposed lifting the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% to cover part of the spending, a step that has strong backing among many Democrats.
A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia unveiled a $568 billion infrastructure plan late last month. Much of that spending would directed towards areas Republicans strongly favor, such as roads and bridges, ports, waterways, and expanded broadband.
Capito and Biden spoke on Thursday in what she described as a “constructive and substantive call” on Twitter.
“We’re working with the White House, and I think it’s been very open-door, we’ve been very encouraged to keep moving forward, and that’s what we’re going to do,” she told Fox News on Sunday. Capito floated user-fees and repurposing unspent stimulus aid provided to state and local governments as a means of paying for the plan.
Infrastructure talks are starting to gain momentum in Congress two weeks after President Joe Biden rolled out his sprawling $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
A Republican-led group of 20 lawmakers is gearing up to make a counteroffer in a bid to strike a bipartisan deal on a smaller package. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia floated one this week in the range of $600 billion to $800 billion. But there are fresh signs of discord among Republicans on the price tag and it’s far from settled.
The sole factor binding them together is opposition to Biden’s corporate tax hike. Capito called it a “non-negotiable red line,” and other Republicans like Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Susan Collins of Maine agreed they wouldn’t budge.
Instead, they are suggesting potential “user-fees,” a set of charges levied on the users of a federal service or good, such as raising the federal gas tax. User-fees have the support from the Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business group.
“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if it’s an airport, the people who are flying,” Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters on Wednesday. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline-powered vehicle.”
That could shift the financial burden of an infrastructure overhaul from companies onto people, Kevin DeGood, an infrastructure expert at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, told Insider. It has triggered intense resistance among Democrats.
“If the Republican position is that we’re going only going to do this by raising the gas tax and we won’t accept an additional penny of corporate revenue, that won’t be something our caucus can get behind,” a Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said.
Pressing Republicans to roll back Trump tax cuts is like urging Democrats to repeal Obamacare
The US generally funds infrastructure – encompassing roads, highways, and public transit like commuter rail – through a blend of state and federal funding. Only about a quarter of spending on transportation and water projects stems from the federal government now, per the Congressional Budget Office.
That’s down from a peak of 38% in 1977, leaving state and local governments to pick up more of the tab in recent decades. Biden’s last two predecessors urged more infrastructure spending. Former President Barack Obama sought to close corporate tax loopholes to repair roads, bridges, and tunnels in a jobs plan, but Republicans lined up against it.
Then former President Donald Trump pitched $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending during his 2016 campaign. Several efforts at a bipartisan package collapsed throughout his four years in office.
Now, a five-year highway funding bill expires in September, providing lawmakers with something close to a deadline to get their public-works priorities through Congress. Clashes are intensifying between Democrats urging tax hikes on corporations and high-earners, and Republicans pushing new fees on individuals.
Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, a partial repeal of Trump’s 2017 tax law. Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, said Republicans were unlikely to support rolling back their biggest economic achievement of the past decade.
“Republicans worked extraordinarily hard to enact a major rewrite of the tax code,” Riedl told Insider. “They’re not going to reverse their signature policy to pay for Joe Biden’s spending. That’s like asking Democrats to repeal Obamacare to pay for a Republican tax cut.”
He outlined a potential plan that would include repurposing unspent emergency stimulus funds to state and local governments, and moving federal money around in the annual budget.
Republicans floated a gasoline tax or a vehicle mileage tax on electric vehicles to finance infrastructure in lieu of business tax hikes. The federal gas tax hasn’t been lifted since 1993, and a vehicle miles-traveled tax has never been implemented at the federal level. Only two states have it in place, The Washington Post reported.
Business groups favor spending on roads and bridges, but don’t want to pay for it
Business groups generally want infrastructure spending, though targeted in scope. The Business Roundtable supports up to $1.5 trillion “to return US physical infrastructure to a state of good repair.”
“There are clear benefits to business from additional infrastructure investing, but we also think it’s unfair to ask business to shoulder or cover all of the additional costs of this public infrastructure investment,” Brendan Bechtel, a leading figure in the Business Roundtable, told CNBC on Wednesday.
But experts say there is simply not enough to be raised through charging new fees on drivers or other types of road taxes. “User-fees are not going to be sufficient and there are sectors that don’t have them,” DeGood told Insider. “For example, the Biden administration wants to put money into electrical transmission.”
Republicans are indicating they will favor a package that’s narrowly tailored to address roads, bridges, ports and other physical infrastructure. One Republican aide argued Democrats swelled the size of their plan, dampening the odds of a deal.
“I think this is going to turn into a slush fund for priorities for important constituencies and important members,” the aide said. “You’re going to get a much better work product if you have Republican senators involved in this. It will give it more longevity.”
Still, some Democrats such as Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said it may be possible to split off elements of Biden’s plan and strike a $1 trillion bipartisan agreement, giving Democrats space to push through the rest using budget reconciliation in a party-line vote. GOP lawmakers wouldn’t be likely to endorse that, according to Riedl.
“Republicans aren’t gonna allow themselves to be chumps like that,” Riedl said.”They won’t give bipartisan cover to a process that will run them over in the end using reconciliation.”
A group of Senate Republicans is assembling an infrastructure plan, part of a bid to strike a deal with President Joe Biden on a package that’s more narrowly targeted in scope.
The Republican faction appears to consist of the same 10 GOP senators who pitched Biden a $618 billion stimulus package in early February. Those negotiations didn’t yield a breakthrough, as the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus without any Republican votes.
These infrastructure proposals are shaping up to be similar, as the Republican group is preparing to unveil an infrastructure bill likely worth $600 billion to $800 billion, much smaller than Biden’s $2.3 trillion plan.
The bloc includes Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Here are some emerging outlines of the plan, based on comments from those Republican lawmakers:
$600 billion to $800 billion price tag.
Focused on roads, bridges, highways, airports, water and broadband.
May double the spending on roads and bridges from Biden plan ($115 billion).
Financed with “user-fees” such as a tax on vehicle-miles traveled.
No corporate tax hikes.
Romney said told reporters the plan remained in its “early stages,” an indication many details still need to be hashed out. Yet the developments could lead to weeks of negotiations between the Republican-led group and the White House on a smaller infrastructure plan.
Capito on Wednesday said “a sweet spot” for an bipartisan infrastructure deal would range between $600 billion to $800 billion – less than half of the $2.3 trillion package Biden laid out.
“What I’d like to do is get back to what I consider the regular definition of infrastructure in terms of job creation. So that’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, including broadband into that, water infrastructure,” she told CNBC.
‘The people who are using it’ should pay for infrastructure
Other Republicans say they would back shifting the cost of the package from large companies onto the “users” who benefit from government spending. Many are strongly opposed to reversing the Trump tax law to pay for an infrastructure overhaul.
“My own view is that the pay-for ought to come from people who are using it. So if its an airport, the people who are flying,” Romney told reporters. “If it’s a port, the people who are shipping into the port; if it’s a rail system, the people who are using the rails; If it’s highways, it ought to be gas if it’s a gasoline powered vehicle.”
Romney also said he supports implementing a mileage fee on drivers of electric vehicles. Then Capito suggested redirecting unused stimulus money to pay for an infrastructure plan among other measures.
“We’re going to look at Vehicle Miles Traveled as a possibility when you look at fleets or when you look at electric vehicles. We’re going to look at assessing electric vehicles for road usage even though they don’t pay into the gas tax,” she said.
“Something I would like to see is double the money for roads and bridges,” he said Wednesday, adding he was in talks on a plan alongside Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, the head of the National Governors Association.
News of the Republican plan triggered some early criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.
“We have a major crisis in terms of roads, bridges, water systems, affordable housing, you name it. [The GOP price tag] is nowhere near what we need,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, indicated another major infrastructure plan was being drafted by lawmakers searching for another option besides President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion proposal.
“I’ll be meeting with governors and bipartisan group of senators and [representatives] on a bill which will be an alternative to the President’s proposal,” Cassidy told Louisiana reporters on Tuesday.
He continued: “As I look at it, the money in our bill – at least what I’m proposing – would double the amount of money going for roads and bridges compared to what the president is putting forward.”
Biden’s plan sets aside $115 billion to upgrade roads and bridges. That suggests a potential alternative plan from Cassidy could allocate at least $230 billion.
The Louisiana senator formed part of a group of 10 Republican senators who met with Biden earlier this year and pitched a $618 billion coronavirus relief counterproposal. They recently panned Biden for calling that package inadequate to address the crisis. Democrats ultimately approved a $1.9 trillion rescue plan without Republican votes.
It was not immediately clear whether Cassidy was drafting a plan in tandem with any of those GOP lawmakers. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democrats favor a large package that ramps up spending on in-home care for the elderly and affordable housing. The GOP argues these measures go beyond traditional infrastructure, besides having a size and scope that are too large. They are also critical of hiking corporate taxes.
“There is bipartisan appetite for smart infrastructure bills that are built the right way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. “There isn’tmuch appetite for using the word “infrastructure” to justify a colossal, multitrillion-dollar slush fund for unrelated bad ideas.”
Sen. Roger Wicker of Kansas, the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, downplayed the prospect of a bipartisan deal on President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan that included rolling back the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
“It would be an almost impossible sell from the president to come to a bipartisan agreement that included the undoing of that signature [law],” Wicker said. “And I did tell him that.”
He described the 2017 tax cuts as “one of my signature achievements in my entire career” and said he supports keeping the corporate tax rate at 21%. The law slashed it to that level from 35%, and Biden wants to lift it to 28% to generate federal dollars for his infrastructure plan.
The remarks came after a bipartisan meeting between the White House and a centrist group of eight lawmakers, which Wicker called “a good meeting.” Biden administration officials said it was part of an effort to shore up support for their infrastructure plan.
“He looks forward to hearing their ideas, and his objective is to find a way forward where we can modernize our nation’s infrastructure so we can compete with China,” Psaki said hours before the meeting. The White House also released an ‘infrastructure report card‘ on Monday that hit a majority of states with Cs and Ds.
The Biden infrastructure plan includes major funding to repair roads and bridges and set up clean energy incentives. It also contains federal dollars for in-home elder care, public transit, broadband, and schools, among others.
Republicans are lining up in opposition to the Biden infrastructure plan. They argue its tax hikes on multinational corporations would hurt job growth and their global competitiveness at a vulnerable period in the economic recovery.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the size and scope of the Democratic plan on Monday.
He said during a floor speech that Democrats were “embarking on an Orwellian campaign to convince everybody that any government policy whatsoever can be labeled ‘infrastructure.’ Liberals just have to believe in it hard enough.”
Still, some Democrats are seeking changes to the plan. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he is opposed to a 28% corporate tax rate and favors 25% instead.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia suggested he could derail Democratic attempts to circumvent Republicans more than once this year, arguing that embarking on the path would be harmful to the nation’s future.
Manchin said that drafting bills was “never supposed to be easy,” adding it was important to address the needs of both rural areas and urban communities in the months ahead.
“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” Manchin wrote. “How is that good for the future of this nation?”
Manchin was referring to a tactic Democrats employed earlier this year to approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without securing any Republican votes. It comes as a top Senate official delivered a ruling on Monday that may provide Democrats an opening to bypass the GOP at least twice more this year.
Reconciliation is governed with a strict set of rules aimed at ensuring measures are closely related to the federal budget. Using it allows Democrats to pass bills with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate and avoid the usual 60-vote threshold.
The White House is starting to sell its $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes major funding for roads and bridges, broadband, and in-home elder care among other measures.
The Biden administration outlined a corporate tax plan on Wednesday. It includes a corporate tax increase from 21% to 28%, a step amounting to a partial repeal of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. Republicans are staunchly opposed to the business tax hikes.
That proposed tax increase recently triggered opposition from Manchin, who said last week he favored a 25% corporate rate instead. The opposition of a single Democratic senator could block the entire passage from clearing the upper chamber.
The dynamic makes Manchin a powerful figure in the Senate. Last month, he forced last-minute changes to unemployment provisions of the stimulus law, delaying votes for almost 11 hours.
Biden said on Wednesday he was open to compromise on a lower rate, though he stressed the need to pay for the plan. “I’m wide open, but we got to pay for this. I am willing to negotiate that,” he said.