Is Manchin Cracking?

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Back in July, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) signed an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

There were a few things in the deal, which you can read here, but chief among them was that his top line number was $1.5 trillion.

Here he is last week saying he’s already moved on this — to come from zero up to $1.5 trillion, so why do the progressives think that he should be the one to move?

Manchin also called the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill “fiscal insanity” and ripped the crazy spending to shreds.

But today, Manchin gave evidence that he might be willing to move off that top-line number.

From Fox Business:

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Tuesday he is open to a social spending bill larger than $1.5 trillion, signaling the possibility that the moderate Democrat could soften his stance on the topline number following days of tense negotiations on President Biden’s signature piece of legislation.

“I’m not ruling anything out, but the bottom line is, I want to make sure that we’re strategic, we do the right job and we don’t basically add more to the concerns that we have right now,” Manchin told reporters.

Manchin’s remarks followed several reports that Biden has pressed House progressives to accept a compromise topline of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion for his spending bill, which includes progressive-backed investments in social programs and green energy. Just days earlier, Manchin said it would be the “definition of fiscal insanity” to approve trillions in new spending despite funding shortages for social security and Medicare.

Manchin said, “Basically I’m more concerned about our nation and our country turning into a more of an entitlement society, versus a rewarding society. So there’s a balance to be had here.”

Now Manchin didn’t say he would move up but it certainly sounds like he may be open to the concept.

So what’s going on here? Are they interpreting him correctly? Or have they finally found his price and/or have the folks pressuring him gotten to him?

Now the Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal has said the progressives wouldn’t agree to a number below $2.5 so it would still seem that there’s a lot of room between the two groups, but it may be getting closer, and now there are reports that they may try to hold in vote soon on both of the bills.

That’s not great news if he really is moving. So we shall have to see if he holds and/or Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and the moderates also hold. But we’ve now moved into the part of the negotiation where there’s a lot of things thrown out there to get folks to move and something clearly seems to have been made to make Manchin more amenable.