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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) returns to the room where a bipartisan group of senators and White House officials are holding negotiations over the Biden administration's proposed infrastructure plan at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Samuel Corum via Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) returned to the room where a bipartisan group of senators and White House officials held negotiations over the Biden administration's proposed infrastructure plan at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Samuel Corum via Getty Images)

'Manchin Is a F**king Snake': Progressives Urged to Keep Pushing for Both Bills

Jayapal says she is "letting the president" deal with Manchin after he declares that holding the infrastructure legislation "hostage" won't win his support for the reconciliation package.

Jessica Corbett

Supporters of passing the Build Back Better budget reconciliation package urged congressional progressives to maintain their position that it must move forward simultaneously with bipartisan infrastructure legislation after Sen. Joe Manchin accused his colleagues of holding the latter bill "hostage" and demanded an immediate vote.

During a Monday press conference, Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that "the political games have to stop" and called for the Democrat-held U.S. House of Representatives to swiftly vote on the infrastructure bill—which several Senate Democrats advanced in August with the expectation that it would only reach President Joe Biden's desk alongside the reconciliation package.

"Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill," Manchin declared, while signaling that he still does not back the compromise framework unveiled by the president last week, after intense negotiations with him and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the other party member who's pushed to weaken the legislation.

Manchin fell back on his long-standing concerns about the national debt and inflation, and advocated for more time to analyze the impacts of the reconciliation package, saying that "I'm open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward, but I am equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country."

In what The Hill described as a "veiled swipe" at Manchin, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday addressed "anybody in the Democratic caucus or elsewhere that's worried about fiscal responsibility and the deficit."

"The fact is... that according to the [Congressional Budget Office] the infrastructure bill runs up to a $250 billion deficit. It's not paid for," Sanders told reporters on Capitol Hill. "The legislation that I wanna see passed... is paid for in its entirety. It will not have an impact on inflation. So if we're talking about fiscal responsibility I think what we're trying to do with the reconciliation bill is the right thing."

Other progressive critics accused the West Virginia Democrat of personally tanking the infrastructure measure—known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF)—and encouraged progressive Democrats in the House to keep fighting to pass both bills together.

Summarizing Monday's developments, HuffPost senior politics reporter Kevin Robillard tweeted, "Just want to make sure I have the past 24 hours right: Progressives move towards doing what Joe Manchin wants, then he holds a press conference and says a bunch of stuff basically guaranteeing progressives won't do what he wants."

Indivisible's Leah Greenberg responded that "Joe Manchin is doing his very best to personally tank the BIF."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), which makes up about a fifth of the House. In a pair of appearances on CNN and MSNBC, she seemed optimistic that Democrats could soon send both bills to Biden for final approval.

Noting the CPC's stated support for the watered-down $1.75 trillion reconciliation legislation announced last week, Jayapal said on MSNBC that "we are now awaiting negotiations amongst senators on prescription drug pricing, and child care, and some details on immigration," but as soon as those issues are addressed, "we will be excited to vote for both bills."

"We are taking the president's word at the fact that he believes he can get 50 votes in the Senate," Jayapal said of the reconciliation package, adding that she believes Democrats are "very, very close" to passing the two long-negotiated pieces of legislation.

During the CNN segment—which came after Manchin's brief press conference—Jayapal reportedly said she is "letting the president" deal with the West Virginia Democrat.

"The president says he can get 51 votes for the bill, we are going to trust him," the CPC chair said—referring to the fact that passing the reconciliation bill in the Senate requires the support of the full Democratic caucus plus Vice President Kamala Harris. "I trust the president."

"We will soon pass a transformational agenda that actually improves the lives of working families, creates millions of jobs, and takes bold action to save our planet," Jayapal tweeted Monday afternoon. "People elected us to deliver, and we're excited to do just that."

This post has been updated with comment from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).


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