Sen. Joe Manchin says Biden’s infrastructure bill can be as large as $4 trillion as long as it’s paid for with tax increases

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 24, 2021. Leigh Vogel/Pool via AP, File
  • Sen. Joe Manchin says a big infrastructure package must be paid for with tax increases.
  • Having passed a COVID-19 stimulus, Biden is now targeting a major infrastructure and climate bill.
  • Manchin chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee in the Senate, making him a key player.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on Sunday that he supports Congress passing a massive infrastructure bill – as long as it’s paid for with tax increases and doesn’t add to the country’s deficit.

Manchin told Axios’ Mike Allen on “Axios on HBO” that he would be willing to get behind a bill as large as $US4 ($5) trillion if it’s funded by tax hikes, noting that he will require the bill to be fully funded as a beginning place for negotiations.

The senator cited his concern over the federal deficit, telling Axios that allowing the deficit to swell further could push the US into “a tremendous deep recession that could lead into a depression if we’re not careful,” adding, “We’re just setting ourselves up.”

The US’ federal deficit is projected to be $US2.3 ($3) trillion for the 2021 fiscal year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, CNBC reported in February. This amount doesn’t include the American Rescue Plan, a $US1.9 ($2) trillion economic relief and COVID-19 aid package, that the Senate passed over the weekend.

The Senate used budget reconciliation, a process that allows legislation related to the federal budget to be passed with a simple majority of present senators as opposed to the three-fifths majority, to move forward with the stimulus.

Still, the process was mired in chaos on Friday and dragged into the early hours of Saturday morning partly due to Manchin holding out to negotiate his position on the amount and duration of supplemental employment benefits that would be included in the bill.

Ultimately, the bill passed 50-49 with Manchin’s support but without a single Republican vote. It now heads back to the House for final passage before heading to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

While an infrastructure package could also be passed through reconciliation, Manchin said he won’t accept an infrastructure bill that, like the COVID-19 relief package, has zero support from Republicans.

“I’m not going to do it through reconciliation,” Manchin told Axios. “I am not going to get on a bill that cuts them out completely before we start trying.”

The West Virginia Democrat told Axios that he believes it’s possible and, in his view, necessary to get 60 votes for a bipartisan infrastructure package.

Manchin will play a crucial role in shepherding a potential infrastructure bill through the chamber as both the chairman of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee and as a crucial vote that Democrats can’t afford to lose.