- Sens. Manchin and Sanders traded barbs on Wednesday around the Democrats’ social spending bill.
- Sanders accused Sens. Manchin and Sinema of “sabotage” on Wednesday.
- Manchin and Sinema are the only Senate Democrats in opposition to the $3.5 trillion package.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Sen. Joe Manchin fired back at Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, after Sanders held a fiery press conference calling out Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema’s “vague” opposition to the Democrats’ social spending bill.
“My number has been $1.5 trillion. I’ve been very clear,” Manchin said to pool reporters.
“I’ve been very clear when it comes to who we are as a society, who we are as a nation,” Manchin added. “I don’t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society. I think we should still be a compassionate, rewarding society.”
Manchin added that he and Sanders “share very different policy and political beliefs.”
Earlier, at a press conference on Wednesday, Sanders lambasted Sinema and Manchin, saying that “two people do not have the right to sabotage what 48 want, what the president of the United States wants.”
Sanders was critical of Manchin’s $1.5 trillion ceiling for the social spending bill, reiterating that $3.5 trillion was the consensus among Democrats.
“Is protecting working families and cutting childhood poverty an ‘entitlement?'” Sanders asked.
As it stands the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package would expand Medicare to cover dental and vision, along with hearing aids, and extend $300 direct child tax payments through 2025.
“Does Sen. Manchin really believe that seniors are not entitled to digest their food, and that they’re not entitled to hear and see properly?” Sanders said. “Is that really too much to ask in the richest country on Earth – that elderly people have teeth in their mouth and can see and can hear?”
Sanders also called out Sinema for her “vagueness” and refusal to publicly commit to a figure for the bill, or state which provisions she disagrees with.
“Sen. Sinema’s position is that she does not negotiate publicly. I don’t know what that means, I don’t know where she’s coming from,” Sanders said.
“Tell us what you want,” Sanders said, addressing Sens. Manchin and Sinema.
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