One of the key Democrats holding out against the bloated $3.5 trillion Senate budget reconciliation bill, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, says the deal-making will be tough to complete by the end of the week.
Manchin says a framework to reduce the spending size and scope should be achieved this week, though.
“Having it finished with all the T’s and the I’s and everything you know crossed and dotted … that will be difficult from the Senate side, because we have an awful lot of text to go through. But as far as conceptually, we should,” Manchin told reporters Monday, according to The Hill.
President Joe Biden had hoped Democrats could meet a delayed deadline of Oct. 31 for passing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal and the trimmed-back budget reconciliation package for social program spending together.
Manchin added “it really should be” finished, but admitted the goal right now is they “should be” able to come to agreement among Democrats for the size of the massive spending bill.
“We’re all working in good faith,” Manchin said. “I’ve been talking to everybody as you know. I think we’ve got a good understanding of each other better than we ever have.”
Manchin had met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Biden on Sunday to try to give his input on what level of spending and which programs he could vote to support.
Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., have balked at the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. Sinema was a key architect of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, having obtained votes from Republicans on the condition it was not merely a companion bill for the $3.5 trillion social programs spending bill.
Manchin wanted that bill to be reduced to $1.5 trillion, because there is a lack of urgency for spending more after the multiple coronavirus stimulus bills have been funded but not fully spent.
“I’m not going to talk about what’s in and what’s out right now because there’s an awful lot of moving parts,” Manchin added. “But there’s a lot of concerns we have on a lot of different things,” Manchin said.
Manchin has been reluctant to expand Medicare to cover vision, hearing, and dental, saying “it’s not fiscally responsible,” according to the report.
“We have a moral obligation to provide for those who have incapacity,” Manchin said, adding, “everyone else should be able to help and chip in, so that’s my mind set.”