Sen. Joe Manchin, an influential centrist Democrat, warned Monday that the Biden administration's massive infrastructure package can't pass in its current form because he and a handful of other Senate Democrats believe the corporate tax hikes proposed in the bill -- designed to offset its costs -- are too steep.
"As the bill exists today, it needs to be changed," he told West Virginia Metro News host Hoppy Kercheval in a radio interview when asked if he supported or opposed President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion proposal.
Manchin said he is against raising the current 21% corporate tax rate -- which was put in place by the 2017 tax overhaul under the Trump administration -- to 28% as called for in the bill and instead supports a middle ground 25% rate, which he called "fair."
The West Virginia senator said he would use the "leverage" he has in the 50-50 Senate to demand changes before voting to take up the bill, which has been introduced but expected to go through weeks or months of negotiations before being debated on the floor.
"If I don't vote to get on it, it's not going anywhere. So we're going to have some leverage here. And it's more than just me, Hoppy. There are six or seven other Democrats who feel very strongly about this. We have to be competitive and we're not going to throw caution to the wind," he said without revealing who the other Democrats are.
Manchin has signaled for weeks that he wants to include Republicans in talks over an infrastructure package and then pass a bipartisan bill that could get the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster. He wants to avoid using a partisan budget process called reconciliation to pass it with only Democratic votes.
A ruling from the Senate parliamentarian about whether Senate rules allow them to use that process to pass the infrastructure bill, as they did the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill earlier this year, could come this week
"We have to have our Republican friends work with us too," Manchin said in the interview. "They just can't be against everything thinking this going to be political posturing we are going to take for the 2022 elections."