House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had ”no knowledge” of the secret agreement crafted between Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin months ago limiting the sweeping spending package to $1.5 trillion, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., told CNN on Friday.
The document was first obtained by Politico and states the ”top-line” number for the package would be $1.5 trillion with debate starting no later than Oct. 1. It also stipulates that the funds in the new legislation ”cannot be disbursed until all funding from COVID legislation and ARP has been spent” and that the Federal Reserve ends quantitative easing.
“At some point, all of us regardless of party must ask the simple question — how much is enough?” Manchin, a swing vote in the chamber, said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Some Democrats and President Joe Biden are pushing back.
”I could see myself coming below $3.5 trillion but we shall see how far $1.5 trillion goes,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, told Politico on Thursday. ”He’s confirmed that’s as far as he’ll go, which is pretty sad if you ask me.”
“I don’t think so,” Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois said when asked if the number was sufficient.
”There’s a sense of optimism about ‘We’ll get there,’ but the point of frustration and lack of clarity is: ‘How soon,”’ said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. ”I encouraged everybody: ‘The time is now for a deal.”’
Pelosi and Democrats are working to build support for the infrastructure bill, but progressives have warned that they won’t vote for the legislation before striking a deal with moderates on the Build Back Better Act, which would expand the child tax credit and Medicare’s ability to cover vision, hearing and dental care, combat climate change, fund community college and universal pre-K initiatives, and fund elder care and paid leave programs.
It would be paid for in part by tax increases primarily on corporations and the wealthy.
Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Chris Coons of Delaware welcomed the fact that Manchin revealed where he stands on the legislation.
”My impression is he may have released that, surprising many of us, in order to make clear he’s had a list that showed some basic positions and principles,” Coons told HuffPost about the July document. ”That’s positive in that it moves us from we don’t have much of a sense at all to here’s a clear list.”
”Now that we know what his priority is, we will work on him to try to push him to do more. … We’re closer to a deal,” Murphy added.
Dingell was also optimistic.
”People can disagree. There have been some tense moments. But … look at a diamond and what it looks like in the rough and look what it looks like polished,” she told CNN. “And right now, we’re working together to get a polished bill to deliver.”