Manchin worries about “serious consequences” of US Senate’s $ 3.5 billion spending plan

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WASHINGTON, Aug.11 (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Wednesday said he had serious concerns about the $ 3.5 trillion Senate Democrats’ planned spending plan, which could ruin efforts to go forward with President Joe Biden’s top priorities.

The Democrat-led Senate approved a draft plan early Wednesday morning in a 50-49 party vote after lawmakers argued over the need for huge spending to tackle climate change and poverty .

Now Biden’s Democratic Party is entering weeks of debates on priorities including universal preschool, affordable housing and climate-friendly technologies, with progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seeking vigorous action on change climate and moderates, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema expressing concern about the price of the bill. .

Manchin, a moderate who often serves as a bridge between his party and Republicans, said in a statement he was concerned about the “potentially serious consequences” for the country’s debt as well as the country’s ability to respond to debt. other potential crises.

The vote followed about 1.5 hours of debate that began just after the Senate passed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday in a bipartisan 69-30 vote, proposing to do the most major investment by the country for decades in roads, bridges, airports and waterways.

“It has been a whole night. We still have a way to go, but we have made a giant leap towards transforming America. It is the most important bill that has been considered in decades.” said Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. journalists after the adoption of the budget resolution.

The bills have been a top priority for Biden, who has sought to pass sweeping changes at a time when Democrats fear losing legislative control in the impending 2022 election.

Democrats plan to push through the package over the next few months, using a process called “budget reconciliation,” which allows them to pass legislation with a simple majority vote.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, said the House would return from its summer recess early on August 23 to consider the budget resolution.

Republicans opposed the $ 3.5 trillion spending plan. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted for the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill, called the broader proposal “radical.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN on Wednesday morning that the Biden administration would push for the two pieces of legislation and let Congress decide the order in which they will be considered.

Granholm added that “there was a lot to like” about the spending bill for Manchin, Sinema and other moderates, saying the high cost would be covered by taxes for people earning more than $ 400,000 a year. and businesses.

CEILING TRADE

Dozens of Republican senators have also signed a pledge not to vote to increase the country’s borrowing capacity when it runs out in the fall in an attempt to cut Democrats’ spending plans.

“They (Democrats) shouldn’t expect Republicans to raise the debt ceiling to cover deficit spending,” Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican who circulated the pledge, told Wall Street Newspaper.

Failure to raise or suspend the legal debt limit – now at $ 28.5 trillion – could trigger a federal government shutdown or default.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling in a bipartisan vote. Yellen also approved the continuation of the larger spending program on Tuesday, saying the $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan should have a sequel.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

On Tuesday, Biden congratulated the 19 Republicans who voted for the $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure measure. “Here on this bill we have proven that we can always come together to do great things – important things – for the American people,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her chamber will not vote on the infrastructure bill or the larger spending envelope until both are delivered, forcing Democratic leaders to unite their narrow majorities in Congress to get the legislation to Biden’s desk.

Leading Progressive House Democrats said on Tuesday that most progressives would not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate also passes a second “robust” spending measure. This contrasts with more moderate House Democrats, who want a quick vote on the infrastructure bill.

Polls show that the desire to modernize American infrastructure, hammered out over the months by senators from both parties, is widely appreciated by the public. The bill includes $ 550 billion in new spending, as well as $ 450 billion in infrastructure investments already approved.

Democrats will begin crafting the reconciliation package for an adoption vote after they return from their summer vacation in September.

Following the vote on the budget resolution, Schumer filed a closing petition on a compromise bill on the House vote upon his return in September. A previous attempt to overhaul electoral laws with sweeping legislation known as the “Law for the People” was blocked in June.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice, additional reporting by David Morgan, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Scott Malone, Shri Navaratnam, Kim Coghill and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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