Two high-profile moderate Democrats are hitting President Biden and progressives in Congress over their massive demands what spending should be included in Democrats’ reconciliation bill, noting that Democrats do not have the kind of majorities former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had when he passed his New Deal.
“Nobody elected him to be F.D.R. They elected him to be normal and stop the chaos,” Rep Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., told the New York Times Wednesday regarding the president’s ambitious legislative agenda.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., echoed a similar point on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday morning.
“We don’t have the numbers that F.D.R. had or that Lyndon Baines Johnson had to get some major, major legislation done,” Manchin said on CNN. “So we have to come to the realization what we have and deal in good faith that we can do at least something.”
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) delivers remarks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. November 1, 2021.
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House Democrats released a new reconciliation bill text on Wednesday and are frantically working on voting on it potentially Thursday, Friday, or over the weekend. The bill text includes money for paid family leave, which Manchin says should not be included in the bill and instead should be passed separately. There’s a strong chance that even if the bill is passed through the House this weekend, that provision will be stripped in the Senate.
Manchin said on Fox News’ “Special Report” Wednesday, “They’re working off the House bill. That’s not going to be the bill I work off of.”
Spanberger’s and Manchin’s comments come in the wake of a devastating loss for Democrats in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Some progressive Democrats have blamed moderates for not acting quickly enough or boldly enough on liberal policies and spending plans to fire up the Democrat base. In contrast, moderates say the lesson from Virginia is that Democrats should govern pragmatically from the middle.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., speaking at a press conference sponsored by the Problem Solvers Caucus and the Common Sense Coalition at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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“This is not a center-left or a left country. We are a center if anything a center-right country,” Manchin told CNN Thursday. “That’s being shown. And we ought to be able to recognize that.”
Manchin added on CNN: “Now we have a reconciliation bill which is only a partisan bill by our Democratic Party, and that’s holding up the other bipartisan bills that are the problem we have, and there has to be some good faith. But if you want someone to agree that I’ll sign off on everything you want, and that’ll be the way it’ll come, and if I do that, you’ll pass the other two .. that’s not the way democracy works.”
Nevertheless, top Democrats appear ready to move the reconciliation bill in the House soon.
“I’m hoping you guys don’t have plans for the next couple of days,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Thursday.
President Biden speaks about the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus on November 3, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“Everything’s moving forward in a very positive direction,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., added.
But whatever comes out of the House is unlikely to excite Manchin – or potentially even House moderates who are aligned with him. Fox News asked Manchin Thursday whether the Penn Wharton Budget Model analysis of the reconciliation bill – which is expected to show its actual cost is nearly $4 trillion – concerns him.
“Of course it does,” Manchin told Fox News. “It should concern everybody.”