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Sept. 2, 2021, 4:38 p.m. EDT

Manchin tells fellow Democrats to 'hit a strategic pause' on $3.5 trillion package

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By Victor Reklaitis

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Thursday again voiced opposition to his party's efforts to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package, saying in a Wall Street Journal opinion column that Congress "should hit a strategic pause" on legislation related to it. "I, for one, won't support a $3.5 trillion bill, or anywhere near that level of additional spending, without greater clarity about why Congress chooses to ignore the serious effects inflation and debt have on existing government programs," Manchin wrote. "This is even more important now as the Social Security and Medicare Trustees have sounded the alarm that these life-saving programs will be insolvent and benefits could start to be reduced as soon as 2026 for Medicare and 2033, a year earlier than previously projected, for Social Security." The moderate Democrat, whose vote is key given the Senate's 50-50 split, made similar points three weeks ago, as he warned of "grave consequences" if Democrats pass the $3.5 trillion package.

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