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Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday he will not vote for the spending package if it costs $3.5 trillion, making it difficult to pass Joe Biden’s bill this month.
Manchin, one of the most independent politicians within the Democratic party in the Senate, made it clear that he considers the cost too high and that he believes it is necessary to lengthen the debate on the bill, in which progressives want to include, among other things, a plan to regularize eight million undocumented immigrants.
“I will not vote in favor of spending 3.5 trillion dollars and (Senate Democratic leader) Chuck (Schumer) knows it, we have talked about it,” Manchin said in an interview with CNN.
The lawmaker advocated cutting that cost, possibly even by more than half, and expressed reservations about the size of the spending to supposedly combat climate change.
Manchin, who represents the state of West Virginia, said passing such a high-cost package could worsen inflation problems in the United States, where there has been a sustained price spike in recent months.
Manchin’s resistance could put a damper on Schumer’s plans to pass the bill, which Democrats want to pass without Republican support, through the reconciliation process before the end of September.
That mechanism allows a budget bill to move through the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of the 60 normally required.
Without Manchin’s vote, the Democrats would not reach that 51 threshold, because they only have 50 seats in the Senate, although they have the potential tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as Speaker of the House.