The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Manchin seeks ‘strategic pause’ on Biden bill, opposes $3.5T


Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that Congress should take a “strategic pause” on more spending, warning that he does not support President Joe Biden’s plans for a sweeping $3.5 trillion effort to rebuild and reshape the economy.

The West Virginia Democrat’s pointed opposition was stronger than his past statements and taps into a grab-bag of arguments over inflation, national security and other concerns to deny Biden and his party a crucial vote on the emerging package. The timing of his comments comes as lawmakers are laboring behind the scenes to draft the legislatio­n ahead of this month’s deadlines.

“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconcilia­tion legislatio­n,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal.

“I, for one, won’t support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs.”

Democrats have no votes to spare as they labor to helm Biden’s big “build back better” agenda to passage in the narrowly divided Congress, where they have the majority in the 50-50 Senate because of the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

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