Even Dems Balking at $6T Price Tag for Infrastructure, Social Programs Spending Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks at a hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill on June 09, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Monday, 21 June 2021 12:08 PM
Democrats are reportedly balking at a $6 trillion price tag for a newly unveiled infrastructure and social programs spending proposal.
The plan was pitched last week at a closed-door meeting with Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee, which Sanders leads, the Washington Examiner reported — and "builds on the proposals that the president has brought to us" Sanders said afterward.
The reference was to President Joe Biden’s similarly priced two-part plan to address infrastructure and social spending.
According to the Washington Examiner, Sanders is saying his package would include homelessness, cut prescription drug prices, and lower the age enrolling in Medicare to 60 while expanding Medicare services — and could also wrap in immigration reform.
But it’s not going to be an easy lift even if Democrats circumvent a widely expected GOP filibuster.
The Washington Examiner reported centrist Democrats including Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have all been critical of the big-bucks price tag.
"I think we should do it for as efficient an amount of money possible to solve the problems," Tester told the news outlet.
Warner isn’t happy with Biden’s costly proposal either, the news outlet reported and both he and Manchin are concerned the tax hike involved is too high — with Manchin particularly concerned about the plan’s $3 trillion addition to the nation’s deficit, the news outlet reported.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is negotiating two bills: one for a $1 trillion infrastructure package that could pass with bipartisan support. Twenty-one Senate lawmakers from both parties are now involved in negotiating that package.
A second, larger measure would add wish-list items outlined by Sanders and Biden and would be taken up using reconciliation, which allows certain legislation to pass with 51 votes instead of the usual 60.
But Democrats will have to have the support of all 50 party lawmakers and centrist Democrats will likely force the spending bill to shrink, shedding elements like the provision of $100 billion in electric vehicle tax credits, the Washington Examiner reported.
Manchin has criticized the electric vehicle provision as helping China control America’s transportation because it controls the supply chain for electric vehicle batteries.
"If we are going to put our transportation modes in the hands of foreign supply chains, that’s crazy," Manchin said, the news outlet reported.