Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) dropped a few hints on Tuesday morning about his thinking on the infrastructure deal.
“Take that victory and then let’s go,” Manchin told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle, referring to the bipartisan compromise on hard infrastructure. “We know [the Republicans] are not going to go to the human infrastructure because of the adjustments to the tax code.”
“We can still go through the process, knowing we probably will have to go to reconciliation and then do what we can afford to do,” he added.
Manchin’s remarks came during a discussion of the so-called two track approach to infrastructure, in which Democrats have long maintained that they will seek to use reconciliation for a larger, human infrastructure package while passing a bipartisan bill for hard infrastructure.
Republicans had planned on allowing the bipartisan bill to pass, while gambling that the weight of pay-fors and other politically difficult measures would sink the reconciliation package.
Manchin reiterated on Tuesday that he would not be opposed to tax changes to finance the human infrastructure bill, and said that he thought the legislation was necessary within the parameters of what “we can afford.”
Since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Biden said last week that the two bills will be passed simultaneously, Republicans have erupted in a fit of rage, recognizing that the plan would sabotage GOP efforts to ensure that only a much smaller, pared down version of the infrastructure legislation passes.
But Republican complaints have shifted over the past week from demands that the two bills be decoupled from each other in the legislative process to asserting control over the legislative agenda of the majority party in both houses of Congress. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) issued a statement on Monday saying that any bipartisan compromise “is a bad deal so long as [Democrats] insist on pursuing a multi-trillion dollar tax-and-spend reconciliation package.”
What remains unclear is whether key Democrats in the caucus will stay the course: will they allow Republicans to effectively dictate the agenda, or will they throw their weight behind the White House’s approach of yoking the two bills together in an effort to pass as much of Biden’s infrastructure agenda as possible?
Manchin said on Tuesday that threatening to withhold votes over separate legislation is unheard of.
“Saying I am gonna not vote for the other because you haven’t guaranteed to vote for everything — we have never done legislation that way, I’ve never been part of that in the ten years I have been in the Senate,” Manchin said.
He added that he wanted legislation to be fully vetted, giving senators input: “Make sure it goes to the committees, comes back to the floor and let’s work it.”
Manchin went on to suggest that reconciliation could be a potential option for hard infrastructure, should the GOP follow through on its threats to withdraw support.
“If no Republicans — which I don’t think we will have on the second one, I’m not assuming that, but I heard them speak — then we’re gonna have to work it through reconciliation, which I agreed that can be done,” he added.