Sen. Joe Manchin doesn’t know how he’ll vote on government spending bill

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who on Thursday became the third Democrat to vote for President Trump’s economic priorities, has not definitively said whether he will support a controversial spending bill that is intended to fulfill funding for Hurricane Maria relief and infrastructure that has already passed through Congress and that would be the single biggest boost to the government’s budget next year.

“I just think it’s not going to pass unless I’m part of it,” Manchin told The Hill.

The vote on the spending bill on Thursday was the third in a series of recent votes Democrats had lined up with President Trump.

The construction bill would approve $15 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and fund repairs for two of the worst-hit parts of Puerto Rico: Dominica and Vieques. Trump signed an earlier spending bill that provided $15 billion to Puerto Rico’s struggling power provider.

The bill also includes spending for flood control, homeland security, national parks, and new programs to improve schools and dams. And it would authorize $16 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency overseeing the rebuilding of highways, bridges, and other construction projects in the U.S.

Following Thursday’s vote, Manchin said he believes that passing the bill is a “moral obligation.”

But Manchin also faced criticism from outside groups like Indivisible, which had run advertisements in West Virginia warning voters that Manchin was under pressure from powerful allies, including President Trump, and that he was swayed by a deal with Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Support for this bill leaves the country on the brink of a cliff, one where protection and services for American citizens across the country are in jeopardy. While we are continuing to make progress toward a clean continuing resolution,” a spokesperson for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., tweeted on Thursday.

As Manchin faces potential questions about his position from Democratic colleagues over the future of the bill, “it’s going to be very, very interesting to see what he does going forward,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told The Hill.

Read more at The Hill.


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