At a press conference Monday afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called on the House to stop playing “political games” and to move ahead with a floor vote on the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Since August, progressives in the House have held the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) hostage in an attempt to compel votes for the reconciliation bill. These progressives have warned that they will not vote for the moderate-preferred infrastructure bill without passage of a budget that progressives find acceptable.
Specifically, these progressives have sought to use the threat to compel Manchin and his colleague Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who were key elements in bipartisan negotiations over the BIF.
But Manchin warned progressives that they would not achieve that result by continuing to hold the bill hostage. Manchin said that he will need more time to go over the new budget deal before agreeing to vote for it, pushing Democrats even further off schedule in passing both bills.
“In all my years of public service, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Manchin fumed. He noted that even after two visits to the U.S. Capitol by President Joe Biden asking House Democrats to support the BIF, there is “still no action.”
“This is not how the U.S. Congress should operate or, in my view, has operated in the past,” Manchin argued.
“The political games have to stop,” he demanded. “It is time to vote on the BIF bill, up or down.”
“I’ve worked in good faith over the past three months with President Biden, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and my colleagues on the reconciliation bill, and I will continue to do so,” he allowed. But, he warned, “Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.”
He criticized progressives for their all-or-nothing attitude, saying “While I’ve worked hard to find a compromise, it’s obvious that compromise is not enough for a lot of my colleagues in Congress. It’s all or nothing. And their position doesn’t seem to change unless we agree to everything.”
“Enough is enough. It’s time our elected leaders in Washington, all of us, stop playing games with the needs of the American people [by] holding the infrastructure bill hostage,” Manchin demanded.
By Joseph Lord