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Energy & Environment

Manchin Tells House Democrats to Vote on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

manchin1.jpg
Susan Walsh
/
AP Photo
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has been negotiating for weeks with congressional Democrats on a big social spending bill. But they appear to be at a stalemate.

Manchin told reporters at the Capitol Monday that the House of Representatives should vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate approved in August.

That’s not, however, what progressive House Democrats want. They want to vote on both bills at the same time. And even though they’ve come down on the original price tag, Manchin is still not on board.

“For the sake of the country, I urge the House to vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” he said. “Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.”

Manchin said he wants more time to evaluate the social spending bill’s impact on the deficit and the economy. Those numbers would come from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but the process can take a while.

With the slimmest of margins in Congress, Democrats can neither afford to lose Manchin’s vote, nor a number of progressives in the House. Balancing their priorities has proved a difficult task.

The infrastructure bill has a big provision that would help West Virginia and Appalachia.

The more than 2,000-page bill includes $11.3 billion for the cleanup of abandoned mine lands and extends mine reclamation programs for 15 years.

Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, included both provisions in the bill.

It also includes billions of dollars to plug orphaned oil and gas wells.

Mine reclamation alone could create hundreds of jobs in West Virginia and generate billions of dollars in economic activity, a recent analysis found.


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