Manchin sees his power grow

Its. Joe manchinJoe Manchin, Former Clinton Strategist: Virginia Results Show Democrats ‘Have Left Too Left On Key Issues For Educated Suburban Voters’ There Is A Clear Economic Solution To Climate Change: Losers Must Bribe Winners Buttigieg Says Administration Will Keep Fighting For Family Leave MORE (DW.Va.) may be the most powerful member of the Senate and his influence in the fight for President BidenJoe Biden Nicaragua Ortega Set to Win Election Amid International Criticism Representative Gosar Releases Anime Video Showing Him Hitting Biden, Ocasio-Cortez Overnight Energy & Environment – Presented By ExxonMobil – Activists Cry Over COP26 Draft MORESocial spending and the climate agenda have increased in the last week.

Manchin scored a huge victory Friday when the House passed the $ 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that he helped negotiate. He will bring an estimated $ 6 billion in federal funding to his home state.

Progressives held the bill in the Senate for months in an effort to influence Manchin and other centrists in negotiations over Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

But in the end, the Liberals allowed the bill to move forward after a commitment by centrists in the House of Representatives to back a broader bill on climate and social spending. The Chamber also approved the rule that establishes the debate on that measure.

Yet throughout the negotiations, that larger bill was lowered due to demands from Manchin and his centrist colleague, the senator. Kyrsten CinemaKyrsten Sinema Former Clinton strategist: Virginia results show Democrats ‘have drifted too far to the left on key issues for educated suburban voters’ Trump to attend fundraiser for Arizona Republican Senate candidate On The Money – Presented by Citi – A House Divided on an Agenda MORE (D-Ariz.). And none have fully committed to voting for the social spending and climate bill.

Manchin on Monday hailed the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill as a major victory for his constituents.

“This is one of the most important laws that we have made,” he told reporters in West Virginia. “The bipartisan infrastructure has been tested for the last 30 years and no president has been able to do it. Is incredible.”

He said $ 3 billion will go to federal highway programs in the state; nearly $ 200 million will go to complete Corridor H of the Appalachian Development Highway System, which is known in the state as the Robert C. Byrd Highway System; $ 190 million for state transit; $ 43 million for state airports and $ 700 million to rehabilitate abandoned lands.

Progressives in the Senate and House wanted to use all of those benefits for West Virginia as leverage to pressure Manchin to accept ambitious proposals to combat climate change, expand Medicare, establish a national paid family leave program, and other priorities that were expected to be were part of the budget reconciliation package.

But now Biden will enact billions of dollars in hard infrastructure investment for West Virginia, and Manchin has yet to pass a framework for the Better Reconstruction Act.

“I don’t fully understand, and I heard from some of them interviewed, how progressives don’t feel like they’re cool. It sure looks that way to me, ”said John Kilwein, professor of political science at West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

“For a guy like Manchin, I think there was a critical edge that was taken away from him because he got what he wanted. The traditional infrastructure bill will help the state, ”he added.

Manchin did not allow the fate of the bipartisan infrastructure package to alter his negotiating positions on the reconciliation package, despite his colleagues insisting that the two bills were linked.

“He has negotiated the same way all the time. It was in good faith and in the hope of reaching a common sense compromise, “said Jonathan Kott, a Democratic strategist and former Manchin assistant. “I think he is going to continue negotiating in the same way even though the employment bill was passed.”

Kott said Manchin’s call for his fellow Democrats to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill immediately and proceed cautiously with the $ 1.75 trillion to $ 2 trillion budget reconciliation package was supported by the election results. last week in Virginia and New Jersey, where Republican candidates did well despite Biden winning both. states comfortably last year.

“You are right that we need to know exactly what this bill costs and what the long-term implications are and that’s the most responsible thing to do, and keep our focus on getting it right rather than fast. And I think he’s right that voters want their election officials to get things done, ”Kott added.

Manchin told his progressive House colleagues at a forceful press conference last week that their efforts to influence him by continuing to withhold the bipartisan infrastructure bill would not work.

“In my opinion, this is not how the United States Congress should work or in my opinion it has in the past. The political games have to stop, “he warned last week.

Manchin vowed to continue negotiating in good faith with Senate Majority Leader Biden. Charles schumerChuck SchumerGOP Delves into Biden’s Blockade of Diplomatic Elections Sununu Says He Will Decide on Senate Run ‘Next Week’ Christie on 2020 Election: ‘No Matter Where You Are, It’s Over’ MORE (DN.Y.) and speaker Nancy pelosiNancy Pelosi Spending Bill Tackles Senate Christie’s Fight in 2020 Election: ‘No Matter Where You Are, It’s Over’ After a Brutal Election Day, Democrats Make a Wise Return to Downtown MORE (D-Calif.) But he warned that “holding hostage” the bipartisan infrastructure “is not going to work to get my support for the reconciliation bill.”

He reiterated that “I will not support a reconciliation package that expands social programs and irresponsibly increases our national debt of 29 trillion dollars that nobody seems to care or even talk about.”

Some progressives like Sen. Elizabeth warrenElizabeth WarrenFed Gov. Quarles to Resign, Seat Open for Biden Election Democrats Struggle to Advance After Election Setbacks White House Calls on Senate Democrats to Meet with Powell This Month: Report MORE (D-Mass.) He warned earlier this year that Biden’s agenda should not be divided between a bill focused on strong infrastructure, a priority that enjoyed broader political support, and a second focused on infrastructure programs. social spending that are higher priorities for liberals.

She envisioned that dividing the agenda into two bills could make it difficult to unify the party behind the social spending elements of Biden’s agenda.

“I want to see the details of how they plan to make sure that weather issues and child care issues are not left behind. We cannot let the train leave the station and the critical parts are left on the platform, ”he said in March when Democratic leaders first outlined the two-way strategy to move Biden’s infrastructure agenda.

Key liberal priorities were removed from a White House framework the president unveiled on October 28, including the $ 150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which Manchin worried would be used to drive companies out. coal from the business, and the national paid family leave program, which Manchin worried would greatly increase the deficit.

And the framework proposal called for expanding Medicare benefits to cover only hearing care, setting aside dental and vision care, in deference to Manchin’s concerns about the solvency of the programs.

Manchin has yet to sign the framework, despite the significant concessions he has made to it.

But some moderate Democratic strategists doubt that bundling everything into a massive infrastructure package or keeping the bipartisan infrastructure bill firmly tied to the outcome of negotiations on the reconciliation bill would have moved Manchin to support more social spending.

“That is not what was going to happen. Manchin is happy to wait five more months, ”said Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a central Democratic think tank.

Even when Democrats set a spending target of $ 3.5 trillion for the reconciliation package in the budget resolution, Kessler thought “this will end at $ 2 trillion” due to resistance from Manchin and other centrists.

But Democratic strategists believe Manchin will eventually sign the reconciliation package, though it may not be until Thanksgiving week that the Congressional Budget Office is expected to provide an official estimate of the bill’s cost, or later. .

Steve White, director of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation in Charleston, West Virginia, said that “the idea that he somehow doesn’t want the second bill, I think, is wrong.”

“I don’t think he wants the whole second bill. Half of the second bill is a lot, “he added about the conciliation bill. “I can’t wait to see what that looks like and I think there will be a lot of good things for West Virginia.”

White said the bipartisan infrastructure bill will have a “huge” impact on West Virginia, but said the reconciliation bill will also have significant investments for the state.

He said spending on renewable energy, such as wind turbines, could create good job opportunities in the state.

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