Dem senator urges colleagues to press ‘pause’ on $3.5T spending deal: ‘Let’s see what happens’

Much to the dismay of his colleagues in the upper chamber, Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is once again threatening to hold up the $3.5 trillion spending bill that leaders in his caucus are currently trying to push through Congress.

Fox Business reports that Manchin told his Senate colleagues this week to put a “pause” on the $3.5 trillion spending bill, which has been tied to a narrower, $1 trillion infrastructure package that lawmakers are hoping to pass on a bipartisan basis.

“Let’s sit back”

Manchin’s comments came Wednesday during an event put on by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“Hit the pause button,” the centrist Democrat said, referring to the $3.5 trillion bill, according to Fox Business. “Let’s sit back. Let’s see what happens. We have so much on our plate. We really have an awful lot. I think that would be the prudent, wise thing to do.”

Manchin explained that he and his colleagues have a lot on their plates, and that the costs of it all will quickly add up.

“I want to be able to take care of our military that can defend us anywhere in the world if it’s called upon,” the senator said, as Fox Business reported. “I want to make sure our economy is still robust. I want to make sure we’re bringing manufacturing back in opportunities. I don’t want to have debt over our head to where we basically can’t service the debt that we have.”

Although there is a “lot of good stuff” in the $3.5 trillion bill, Manchin said, there isn’t “anything that we need immediately.”

“A strange belief”

The next day, Manchin published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal expanding on his opposition to the $3.5 trillion spending bill, at least in its current form.

“The nation faces an unprecedented array of challenges and will inevitably encounter additional crises in the future,” Manchin wrote Thursday. “Yet some in Congress have a strange belief there is an infinite supply of money to deal with any current or future crisis, and that spending trillions upon trillions will have no negative consequence for the future. I disagree.”

Accordingly, Manchin again argued for Congress to take a “strategic pause” on the measure, which Democrats are hoping to push through the Senate using reconciliation, a process that would allow them to pass the bill without Republican support, according to CBS News.

With the current makeup of the Senate, however, Democrats would need every member of their caucus in Congress’ upper chamber to support the measure, assuming that no one in the GOP backs it. That means Dems are relying on Manchin — and he could, by himself, upend their plans.

Still, Manchin sometimes has a tendency to talk the talk without walking the walk. Only time will tell if he stands his ground on this one.

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