President Biden was scheduled to meet with Sen. Joe Manchin at the White House Monday, just days after Manchin said he was “very uncomfortable” with the size of two massive spending bills pushed by the White House.
Manchin provided a crucial vote to help pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan through the Senate without a single Republican vote. However, the West Virginia Democrat has balked at the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan and the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan.
“A lot of money, a lot of money,” Manchin told CNN April 28.
“That makes you very uncomfortable, you’re going to find how you’re going to pay for it, you know? Are we going to be able to be competitive and be able to pay for what we need as a country? We’ve got to figure out what our needs are and maybe make some adjustments, who knows.”
Manchin has also expressed skepticism about key parts of the American Families Plan, including universal preschool for three and four-year olds.
“It’s not the federal government’s responsibility to educate all of our children,” Manchin told a West Virginia news outlet last month.
Manchin has also opposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent to help pay for the American Jobs Plan, though he has indicated he would agree to the rate increasing to 25 percent. Biden, for his part, has seemed unwilling to budge much on that issue, telling reporters last week: “I’m willing to compromise, but I’m not willing to not pay for what we’re talking about. I’m not willing to deficit spend. They already have us $2 trillion in the hole.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki attempted to downplay the Manchin meeting Monday as part of what she called Biden’s “ongoing outreach.” Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the meeting.
The Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats can call on Vice President Kamala Harris to break tie votes if necessary. However, Manchin’s opposition to key progressive agenda items like abolishing the legislative filibuster, a $15 minimum wage and statehood for Washington D.C. has made him a thorn in the side of his left-wing colleagues.
Last month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Biden “wants to see major action in Congress and real progress by Memorial Day” in passing the $2.3 billion infrastructure plan.
“We’ve got some real kind of shot clocks on this in terms of things that have to get reauthorized by the end of September,” Buttigieg said. “So, you know, the sooner the better, I think, is the bottom line. We’ve got to get this done.”