Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, is said to be inclined to reject the reconciliation bill completely rather than accept a figure he feels is too high, citing concerns about increased inflation.

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Senator Manchin apparently told Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, according to a report from Axios, that he was perfectly content with not passing the reconciliation bill at all.

Senator Sanders would have liked a $6 trillion social spending bill, but he was eventually whittled down to settling for $3.5 trillion.

However, Senator Manchin doesn’t want to come close to Senator Sanders’ lowest number of $3.5 trillion, according to Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester, who recounted the October 20th conversation that took place over a lunch:

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“Joe [Manchin] said, ‘I’m comfortable with nothing,’ Bernie [Sanders] said, ‘We need to do three-and-a-half [trillion dollars].’ The truth is both of them are in different spots.”

Senator Tester stated that he believes Senator Manchin would rather tank the reconciliation bill completely than entertain a figure higher that the $1.5 trillion he’s floated previously as being more reasonable.

According to Senator Tester, Senator Manchin even accentuated his stance on the matter during the lunch by gesturing with his thumb and forefinger – forming a zero – and saying, “I’m comfortable with zero.”

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Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, another Democrat, summed up the interaction similarly as well, concurring that Senator Manchin had made the aforementioned gesture while voicing his perspective. Senator Coons also added that Senator Manchin raised concerns over inflation, saying that Senator Manchin stated the following:

“This will contribute to inflation. We’ve already passed the American Rescue Plan. We should just pass the infrastructure bill and, you know, pause for six months.”

Freelance writer and podcaster Bill Scher, speculated on the matter via Twitter, questioning whether Senator Manchin is genuinely content with the reconciliation bill being left for dead:

“Most progressives believe Manchin wants to kill Build Back Better, so when he says ‘How about zero?’ it’s a credible threat … which makes it easier to progressives to accept a number close to Manchin’s proposed $1.5T. Does Manchin really want $0 or $1.5T? We’ll never know.”

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If the West Virginia senator is willing to follow through with his purported stance on the reconciliation bill, this move could effectively compel Washington’s far-left actors to shift back to a more moderate stance if they wish to get anything passed.