Manchin: 'High Probability' That Both Infrastructure Bills Will Pass

Susan Jones | October 27, 2021 | 7:42am EDT
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Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is a key vote for the Democrats' big-government, tax-and-spend reconciliation bill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is a key vote for the Democrats' big-government, tax-and-spend reconciliation bill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Asked on Tuesday if he believes Congress will pass a physical infrastructure bill as well as a "human" infrastructure/entitlements bill, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said yes.

"I sure do think there's a high probability that's going to happen," Manchin said in an hour-long conversation at The Economic Club of Washington. "And I think that basically this infrastructure bill...we call it the BIF bill, we all refer to is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but the BIF bill...I would like to hope it passes Wednesday evening."

("By the end of the week," Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) told Manchin, speaking to him from the audience.)

Manchin said President Biden "needs to take something with him" to the climate conference in Glasgow. He said there's "a lot of good clean-energy stuff" in the bipartisan bill.

"If we get that one piece of legislation passed, it shows that in a bipartisan way, we can do something, because there'll be Republicans that'll vote for it on the House side."

(The House Progressive Caucus continues to insist that both infrastructure bills be voted on at the same time. Nevertheless, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has set an Oct. 31 date for voting on the BIF.)

As for the larger and more controversial soft infrastructure bill, Manchin note it contains "a lot of social adjustments," including new entitlement programs -- child care, paid family leave, free education and more.

Democrats aim to pass most of their big government agenda with just 51 all-Democrat votes, using the reconciliation process.

Manchin said he told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in July he does not think the government should be run through reconciliation "because it's not lasting.

"If you don't have buy-in from both sides, then we're going to be like a banana republic, flipping back and forth every two to four years. I said, that's not who we are as a country, that's not the faith and goodwill that we have around the world, why people invest in us."

Manchin also told Schumer in July he would not vote for a reconciliation bill exceeding $1.5 trillion over ten years.

"I think 1.5 (trillion) is more than fair since we just did 1.9, since we just did another 1.2. And...I've never heard 'trillion dollars' even used, even when we had the meltdown in 2007, 2008. They got up to $800 billion, I think -- in that neighborhood, 8 or 9 -- then we thought it was outrageous that we had to spend so much to keep us from a financial collapse.

"We talk about billions like chump change. Well, okay. And now we're into trillions, like it's expected."

Democrats are still negotiating both the price and the content of the reconciliation plan, which is not yet finalized in bill form.

According to various reports in liberal media outlets, Democrats still are not close to a "framework agreement," never mind a vote on an actual bill. Disagreements among Democrats cover everything from how to pay for their agenda; what elements of that agenda to keep in or cut; and, if kept in the bill, for how long.

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