Joe Manchin kills Build Back Better for now
The longtime West Virginia senator went on Fox News Sunday to reveal that he would not be supporting the president’s massive social spending bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he won’t vote for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, effectively ending negotiations on this version of legislation that would have greatly expanded the nation’s social safety net.
Manchin has long been a key holdout for the legislation, voicing concerns regarding certain measures of the massive tax and spending bill and how it may worsen inflation in the country.
BREAKING: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he can't vote for a $2 trillion social safety net bill, dealing a potentially fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s signature legislation. https://t.co/MvhX9TKgzE
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 19, 2021
“This is a ‘no’ on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with,” Manchin said on Fox News Sunday, adding that the main concern should be the Omicron variant.
Manchin’s support for the bill — a $1.9 trillion spending plan focused on expanding the nation’s social safety net, reducing Americans’ childcare and healthcare costs, and climate change — is necessary for Democrats to pass the legislation using a process called budget reconciliation, meaning it only needs 51 votes to pass.
Manchin opposed the structure of the bill, claiming Democrats were hiding the true costs of the bill by depending on temporary programs that will be extended year after year.
He said on multiple occasions that he wanted to keep the price tag at $1.75 trillion, but said the inclusion of temporary measures — such as a one-year extension of an expanded child tax credit — is not “transparent” to the public about the impact it would have on federal spending.
In a statement released from Manchin’s office after the Fox News interview, he said he couldn’t support the bill anymore.
"I have always said: 'If I can't go back home and explain it, I can't vote for it.' Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation," Manchin said.
In a series of tweets, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar criticized Manchin’s refusal to support the bill, calling his excuses nonsensical.
Let’s be clear: Manchin’s excuse is bullshit. The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans.
This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure. https://t.co/dhzcSk0qUV
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 19, 2021
“West Virginia is 50th in public health, 50th in childcare, 48th in employment. They support Build Back Better by a 43 point margin. This has nothing to do with his constituents. This is about the corruption and self-interest of a coal baron,” Omar wrote.
Progressive independent Sen. Bernie Sanders also slammed Manchin for revoking his support, saying “I think he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia” and urging Democrats to put the bill to a floor vote to pressure him into voting no on the record.
“We've been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month. But if he doesn't have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world,” Sanders told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union on Sunday, Dec. 19.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley echoed Sanders’ criticism, and supported his call to take the bill to a floor vote to force Manchin to vote no on the record.
CNN's @JakeTapper: "Do you think President Biden broke his promise? He said ... we're gonna get all 50 Democrats on board."
Rep. @AyannaPressley (D-MA): "This is about Joe Manchin obstructing the president's agenda, obstructing the people's agenda." pic.twitter.com/gB4IP8p5Xt
— The Recount (@therecount) December 19, 2021
"We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the President's agenda, to obstruct the people's agenda," Pressley also said on State of the Union.