Joe Manchin appears close to making up his mind. Here’s what he wants in an infrastructure plan.

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images
  • Joe Manchin holds singular sway over Biden’s economic agenda and his spending plans.
  • Over the past few months he has held back from offering policy specifics, but that’s changing.
  • He’s indicated he wants an infrastructure plan that includes a partial rollback of Trump’s tax cuts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is poised to play a critical role in President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

The influential Democratic centrist nearly derailed passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package when he pressed for a last-minute cut to federal unemployment benefits. It sent Democrats scrambling to secure his support for 12 hours – they eventually agreed to a reduction.

With Democrats essentially needing to pass major legislation via reconciliation – which requires all 50 members of the parties to vote in favor – Manchin remains the swing vote on infrastructure.

Manchin now holds major sway in ongoing bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. He’s pushing both parties to strike a deal over the objection of fellow Democrats and progressives who view the talks as alternately a waste of time or something that could produce a significantly watered-down bill.

On Tuesday, Manchin opened the door to a Democrat-only package. He’s largely held back from offering policy specifics, but here’s an overview of what Manchin seeks from a new economic spending bill:

  • An increase of the corporate tax rate to 25% from 21%.
  • Boosting nuclear and hydrogen energy, along with carbon capture technology.
  • Some social initiatives from Biden’s “human infrastructure” plan.
  • Up to $4 trillion in infrastructure spending.
  • A slew of new taxes to finance it.

On Tuesday, Manchin offered some of his clearest rationale yet behind why he wants to raise corporate taxes in an interview with NBC News:

“Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on not changing anything, and I thought the 2017 tax bill was a very unfair bill, and weighted to a side that basically did not benefit the average American. So I voted against it. I think there are some adjustments that need to be made.”

Manchin chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which The Hill first reported is slated to mark up a 423-page legislative draft aimed at strengthening the nation’s energy infrastructure on Thursday. It contains provisions to boost electric grid resiliency as well as the energy efficiency of housing and commercial buildings.

It remains unclear how much of Biden’s education, healthcare, and childcare initiatives Manchin will ultimately embrace. His office declined to comment earlier this month on whether the West Virginia senator supported the permanent expansion of the child tax credit.

But the Democrats’ pivotal swing vote looks like he may be ready to make a deal.