Sen. Joe Manchin III criticized his party and the White House on Sunday for initially refusing to negotiate with House Republicans on raising the debt ceiling.
The conservative Democrat from West Virginia suggested the delay was responsible for nearly jumping a fiscal cliff and narrowly avoiding a first-ever default on the national debt.
“I think it’s harmful. It shows you that the far left was pushing so hard not to even negotiate, not even to talk about it,” Mr. Manchin said on CBS’ Sunday political discussion show “Face the Nation.”
“Just hold your position, hold your position, hold your position,” he described the “far left” position. “It’s not who we are in America.”
While President Biden and Democrats initially refused to consider anything other than a sharp increase in the debt ceiling, the White House has portrayed Republicans as holding the US economy hostage.
“How can you be a hostage taker if you’re basically talking about shouldn’t we recognize that we have unmanageable debt?” Shouldn’t we understand how we got here so fast and so high at $31.5 trillion? said Mr. Manchin. “The trajectory is out of sight if we do nothing. I want to give credit to both parties – the bargaining teams.
“It’s a shame we didn’t recognize it much sooner,” he continued. “You can’t play these games.”
The agreement passed by Congress last week and signed into law by Mr Biden suspends the debt ceiling until January 2025, after the presidential election next year.
It includes spending caps, tougher work requirements for food stamps, IRS cuts and aid for the fossil fuel industry, all measures pushed by Republicans.
However, many Republicans in both houses have consistently opposed the legislation because conservatives have said it does not include deep spending cuts.