Manchin: lawmakers close to a top-line number for U.S. spending bill

October 21, 2021

(Refiling to correct time element in first paragraph to Thursday instead of Wednesday)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Thursday he believed Democratic lawmakers were getting close to agreeing on a top-line figure for spending legislation that contains some of President Joe Biden’s promised social programs.

Democratic lawmakers have been working to close a deal to pass an infrastructure measure and a social spending and climate change package – after weeks of intraparty bickering between progressives and moderates including Manchin – by carving out some long-pledged social programs to get a deal done.

“We’re looking at everything today and tomorrow and hopefully we can either have a framework: We agree or disagree and (it) is either irreconcilable or it is something we can work out,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I think we are getting close to arranging a top-line, yes.”

During a visit to his native Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday night, Biden, a Democrat, said the social spending legislation, plus a separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, would create 2 million jobs a year for 20 years and not raise deficit spending. How to pay for the bills remains up in the air, particularly after the White House told some Democrats this week that a plan to raise corporate taxes may be dead.

Manchin balked at the original $3.5 trillion price tag for the spending bill and has been pushing for cuts. Asked if he would accept the $1.9 trillion figure some progressive lawmakers have suggested, he said, “Negotiations are ongoing.”

Fellow Democratic Senator Jon Tester also said lawmakers were close to a top-line number, which he said was more important than a framework for the agreement.

“I think that’s what will allow us to move forward. You get the top-line number, we’re off and running,” Tester told reporters at the Capitol.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Tim Gardner; editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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