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Democrat Manchin praises GOP infrastructure proposal, backs targeted approach


U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) addresses a news conference at the end of an ‘infrastructure summit’ of a bipartisan group of governors, U.S. senators, and members of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus convened by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan at the Government House in Annapolis, Maryland, April 23, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Sen. Joe Manchin said he would support a more targeted version of President Joe Biden‘s sprawling $2 trillion infrastructure package before focusing on other items as part of a separate plan.

“I do think they should be separated, because, when you start putting so much into one bill, which we call an omnibus bill, makes it very, very difficult for the public to understand,” the moderate West Virginia Democrat said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Manchin, a key figure in negotiations over the president’s proposal, also praised the Republicans’ counteroffer proposal, which is a fraction of the cost of the one Biden has unveiled and excludes Democratic goals like care for elderly and disabled Americans.

Manchin said the GOP plan is “a good start” and that a bipartisan proposal should tackle traditional infrastructure issues, such as repairing roads and bridges.

“And they have worked it together. So, we know it has bipartisan support,” Manchin said. “We just have to look to see if we have gotten everything in there that we need. And we will be working on that together. So, I’m very, very pleased with that.”

Biden has said he wants to have an infrastructure bill Republicans also support, though it’s unclear what kind of legislation would receive bipartisan consensus.

Democrats could also move forward to pass a bill on their own through budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority in the Senate, if the GOP doesn’t agree to a deal. However, Manchin has said he opposes using reconciliation.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who backed the GOP bill along with Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Barrasso of Wyoming, said on Sunday that she’s received an “encouraging” response from the Biden administration regarding their plan.

“I have talked to our ranking members. I have talked to my committee chairmen. I have talked to Democrats,” Capito said on CNN. “This is an active conversation, and I think that it’s a good beginning.”

The president has met with Republican and Democratic lawmakers twice about infrastructure in recent weeks and is expected to unveil the second part of his infrastructure and economic recovery plan next week.

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