The fight over Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending bill is reviving one of Washington’s most perennial questions: What does Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) want?
Manchin, who occupies the proverbial eye of the 50-50 Senate, is back in the spotlight amid a highly fraught debate over the heart of President Biden’s legislative agenda. He’s backchanneling with his colleagues, shadowboxing with progressives through the media and feeding GOP hopes that he’ll scale down the bill.
Manchin, for his part, says he’s being clear in an effort to not catch anyone off-guard.
“Everybody knows my position,” Manchin told reporters in one of several gaggles packed into the Senate’s two-day work week. “I’ve been very clear, very open. I didn’t want anybody to say it was a surprise.”
Manchin has drawn a hard line on not accepting a $3.5 trillion bill and urged his colleagues to hit “pause” on the legislation altogether – a request he reiterated during a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting this week.