During an appearance on MSNBC this Tuesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — one of the most conservatively minded Democrats in the Senate — said that he was in favor of (eventually) doing a Democrats-only infrastructure spending bill in addition to the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was recently announced by President Joe Biden and others. The bipartisan agreement focuses on so-called hard infrastructure, like roads and bridges, while the prospective additional bill hinges upon so-called human infrastructure moves, meaning support for child care, home healthcare, and the like.
Democrats can pass certain budget-related legislation, like the planned second infrastructure bill, with just 51 votes, bypassing the Senate’s filibuster rules that ordinarily require the agreement of at least 60 Senators before moving forward on most legislation. With the Senate’s current party breakdown, hitting the often-required 60-Senator mark demands the participation of at least 10 Republicans. With Senate GOP leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently insisting that “100 percent” of his “focus” is on “standing up to this administration,” far-reaching bipartisanship seems like a rhetorical dead end.
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Manchin said as follows:
‘I would hope that everyone would look at this [bipartisan infrastructure deal] as something we can do. It’s doable in a bipartisan way. Take that victory. And then let’s go — we know they’re not going to go to the human infrastructure, because of the adjustments of the tax code. I’ve known that from day one. But we can still go through the process, knowing we’ll probably have to go to reconciliation, and then do what we can afford to do.’
Getting into more specifics regarding his support for both the bipartisan agreement and a Democrats-only bill, Manchin added as follows:
‘There’s a need in both — social adjustments that we need to make in this country to help working families survive and prosper and maybe attain that American dream. It should never be a dream that has died and gone away. The American dream is what gets us up every morning and works every day as hard as we do. Let’s give them a chance at that. So we know we need those adjustments.’
Manchin added that he just hasn’t “agreed on the amount” of a Democrats-only bill, because he hasn’t “seen everything that everybody is wanting to put into a bill.” Since, including Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker, Democrats currently have a maximum of 51 votes in the Senate, they can’t afford to lose a single party member — including Manchin — when advancing key legislation through the budget reconciliation process. (Budget reconciliation refers to the process of passing spending bills needing just 51 votes in the chamber.) Watch Manchin’s remarks below: