President Joe Biden’s “infrastructure” plan hit a roadblock Wednesday after U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) disputed the scope and cost of the sweeping measure.
Manchin, a key vote in the 50-50 Senate, told West Virginia reporters, “I would hope to see Democrats and Republicans agreeing on infrastructure – infrastructure by itself.”
He added, “It won’t be the $2.3 trillion, that I can tell you.”
The declaration came as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other administration leaders attempt to redefine “infrastructure” to include just about everything — beyond simply roads, bridges, and railways.
“To me, infrastructure is the foundation that makes it possible for Americans to thrive. And that includes things like roads and bridges, but it also includes things like pipes,” Buttigieg recently told Grist.
“If you can’t count on a glass of clean, safe drinking water, you’re not free. And you’re not able to live a life of your choosing,” he said.
“So, fixing lead pipes, as the president is proposing, is absolutely an infrastructure investment — and, by the way, one of the best investments we can make in future generations.”
Buttigieg argued he does not expect “an opportunity like this to come along again” and described it as “this perfect storm if you will, of public impatience, bipartisan interest, demonstrated need, economic conditions, and a very supportive president to actually get something big done.”
Earlier this week, the White House said it would like a bipartisan deal, but Democrats are willing to go it alone to enact their priorities.
“We should be doing something in a bipartisan way,” Manchin said, according to Metro News.
“It’ll be based around infrastructure only. That’d be my advice. That’s a better way to go.”
He also indicated the broad plan may not have the desired economic effect Democrats are seeking right now.
“If we don’t accelerate the permitting of these projects,” he said of road projects, “it’ll be 10 years before they get started.”
Other Democrats weighed in to make more demands.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) told the Washington Post he will oppose the package if it does not include a repeal on State and Local Tax (SALT) limitations.
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) would like to “add money for biofuel infrastructure, which would help her state,” the Post said.
“I am hoping this was an oversight and that they will support it,” Axne said.
Interest groups want $400 billion in home- and elder-care provisions to cut out of the plan to lessen the package’s cost.