February 28, 2024

The US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks at the end of an “infrastructure summit” of a non-partisan group of governors, US senators and members of the caucus for problem solvers of Congress at a press conference in the government building set up by the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan Annapolis, Maryland, April 23, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

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

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

Manchin, a key figure in negotiating the president’s proposal, also praised the Republicans’ counteroffer proposal, which is a fraction of the cost of Biden’s proposal and rules out democratic goals such as caring for the elderly and disabled Americans.

Manchin said the GOP plan was “a good start” and a bipartisan proposal should address traditional infrastructure problems like repairing roads and bridges.

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“And they worked together. So we know that it is supported by both parties,” said Manchin. “We just have to see if we’ve got everything we need. And we’ll work on it together. So I’m very, very happy with it.”

Biden has said he wants an infrastructure bill that Republicans also support, although it is unclear what kind of legislation would get bipartisan consensus.

Democrats could also move forward to getting their own bill passed through a budget vote that only requires a simple Senate majority if the GOP disagrees with a deal. However, Manchin has said that he opposes reconciliation.

West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who co-sponsored the GOP bill with Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Sunday that she received an “encouraging” response from the Biden administration of their plan.

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

The president has met twice with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on infrastructure in the past few weeks and is expected to present the second part of his infrastructure and stimulus plan next week.