Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is proving to be the biggest thing standing in the way of a quick passage for Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan.
Manchin is holding discussions with Republicans on a better, scaled down infrastructure package and how it should look. Many GOP senators are holding on to hope that he can be persuaded to block the efforts to raise the corporate tax rate.
That would force Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to wait for negotiations to reach a conclusion on the plan rather than just moving forward with the budget reconciliation process.
Senate Republicans proposed a $568 billion infrastructure counteroffer last week. Now, bipartisan talks on a compromise proposal between $600 billion and $1 trillion are just getting started.
Manchin wants time for the talks to build momentum.
“For the sake of our country, we have to show we can work in a bipartisan way,” he said on Monday. “I don’t know what the rush is.”
“Stay here a little bit, work a little bit,” Manchin added.
But Democrats are getting nervous about an extended timeline and worry that splitting Biden’s infrastructure agenda into two or three pieces of legislation might mean that a substantial part of it gets left behind.
“I’m the most anxious member of the Democratic caucus. I want to get it done and done quickly,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Monday when asked how long Democrats are willing to wait on bipartisan infrastructure talks.
Manchin said over the weekend that he wants to focus on “conventional infrastructure” such as roads, bridges, water projects and expanded broadband internet, and he proposed splitting off about $400 billion in funding for home- and community-based caregivers for the elderly and people with disabilities, as well as billions of dollars for child care.
While Manchin said such priorities are “needed,” he added that doesn’t want to lump too many of them in a broad bill because he thinks it would be tougher to sell to the public.
His remarks dealt a blow to other Senate Democrats who want to pass as large a package as possible and who called the $568 billion Republican proposal “totally inadequate” and a “slap in the face.”
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