Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday “there is a real danger” congressional Democrats could fail to deliver on two major pieces of legislation furthering President Biden’s domestic agenda if moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., cannot agree on the price tag.
Sanders has repeatedly said he would support progressive House Democrats who have vowed to block the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate last month, if the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that passed the House stalls in the Senate.
Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos whether Democrats could wind up with “nothing,” Sanders responded, “That is a possibility and I think that would be a disaster for the American people.”
“There is a real danger that this bill will lose, that the infrastructure bill will lose in the House,” the senator added.
Manchin of West Virginia said earlier Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he will not vote in favor of the budget reconciliation package, which is a central part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
“He will not have my vote on 3.5 and Chuck [Schumer] knows that,” Manchin said, adding that it should be more like $1 trillion-$1.5 trillion. “It’s not going to be three and a half I can assure you.”
Manchin said there is “no way” the reconciliation bill will pass this month, and he said progressives are making a big mistake if they follow through on their threat to kill the infrastructure bill in retaliation.
“They have to do what they have to do,” he said. “If they play politics with the needs of America, I can tell you America will recoil.”
Sanders scoffed at Manchin’s $1.5 trillion price ceiling during an appearance on the same CNN show, saying most Democrats would have even supported his earlier suggestion of $6 trillion.
“No. It’s absolutely not acceptable to me,” he said. “I don’t think it’s acceptable to the president, American people, or Democratic caucus.”
During a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Manchin criticized Sanders for supporting the House Democrats who threatened to block the infrastructure bill.
“I just respectfully disagree with Bernie,” Manchin told Stephanopoulos. “I’ve never seen this in legislation. I never thought the purposes of the progress we make in legislation was basically to hold one hostage over the other.”
Sanders fired back on the same ABC show, claiming that “maybe the converse is true, and maybe Sen. Manchin is holding the reconciliation bill hostage.”
Sanders added that “the real question” is whether it is “appropriate for one person to destroy two pieces of legislation.”
Sanders said that regardless of the party infighting, he expects both bills to eventually pass.
Budget reconciliation rules prevent Republicans from filibustering the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, so Democrats only need a simple majority to pass it. But with a 50-50 Senate, Democrats need every Democratic senator to vote yes, with Vice President Harris breaking the tie.