White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday he is still confident that President Biden’s push for a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package can survive after Sen. Joe Manchin III urged his colleagues to put the brakes on the package, citing concerns about the price tag and inflation.
Mr. Klain said Mr. Manchin has worked with the White House “every step of the way” and said he has “been a partner of this administration.”
“If I had a nickel for every time someone told me this package was dead, I would be a very very rich person,” Mr. Klain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Manchin called on Democrats this week to put a “strategic pause” on the massive legislation, which is being used as a vehicle to pass some of the party’s other priorities related to climate change and immigration.
The West Virginia Democrat’s words of caution threaten to derail the reconciliation package, which needs the support of all 50 Democrats to pass the Senate.
“Instead of rushing to spend trillions on new government programs and additional stimulus funding, Congress should hit a strategic pause on the budget-reconciliation legislation,” Mr. Manchin wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. “A pause is warranted because it will provide more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic, and it will allow us to determine whether inflation is transitory or not.”
“While some have suggested this reconciliation legislation must be passed now, I believe that making budgetary decisions under artificial political deadlines never leads to good policy or sound decisions,” he said.
Mr. Klain said the details of the package could help ease Mr. Manchin’s concerns.
“This package adds nothing to the debt, nothing to the debt,” he said. “It is fully paid for by raising taxes on wealthy people.”