West Virginia's Manchin, flexing political muscle, leaves U.S. Senate Democrats in lurch

By Reuters2 days ago

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Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bipartisan members of the Senate and House announce coronavirus relief legislation framework at news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Democrats trying to advance President Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan were left wondering on Thursday whether one of their own, Senator Joe Manchin, might revolt if the party tries to act without Republican buy-in.

The West Virginia senator, in a column published by the Washington Post, said lawmakers should be “alarmed“ at the possibility that Senate Democrats could use a maneuver called “reconciliation“ to pass the package with only Democratic votes, as they did last month with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

Biden's Democrats hold half the 100-seat Senate, claiming a majority thanks only to Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote. A defection by Manchin or any other member could doom the bill's chances in the weeks - or months - Congress debates it after it returns next week from a spring break.

Manchin narrowly won re-election in 2018 in an increasingly Republican-leaning state, which is home to some of the nation's worst roads - which the infrastructure package could help fix - but also a coal industry that would lose subsidies under some of its proposals.

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