Senator Joe Manchin on Build Back Better: “This Is A No”
Overreaction Monday in the political sphere should be lots of fun after the Sunday show nugget Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) dropped on Fox News Sunday regarding Build Back Better.
The statement of opposition amounted to the most forceful condemnation yet from the moderate Democratic holdout, who cited rising consumer prices, a growing federal debt and the arrival of a new coronavirus variant as reasons he could not supply his must-have vote to help his party adopt its signature spending package.
“I can’t move forward. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I tried everything humanly possible,” he added of his negotiations with Democrats, including Biden. “I can’t get there. … This is a no.”
Manchin renews criticism of Democrats’ $2 trillion economic package, raising fresh obstacles to passage
Manchin’s stalwart refusal immediately thrust the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, into fresh political peril. Without his support, Senate Democrats simply cannot move the sprawling measure through the narrowly divided chamber even using the process known as reconciliation, an intricate legislative tactic that allows the party to bypass a guaranteed Republican filibuster.
Biden had sought to assuage Manchin’s concerns in recent days, speaking privately with the centrist Democrat in an attempt to win his vote. The talks marked a last-ditch effort in the waning hours of the year to dislodge a long-delayed bill that aims to expand Medicare benefits, authorize prekindergarten for all American children, invest new sums to combat climate change and provide a slew of new financial support to help low-income Americans.
But talks quickly stalled, as Manchin continued to demand significant changes to the size and scope of the spending package, threatening the ability of Democrats to deliver on many of the promises they made on the 2020 campaign trail. The stalemate ultimately left party leaders no choice but to abandon their plan to hold a vote on the bill before Christmas, a move that meant lawmakers could not act in time to extend a soon-to-expire federal program that provides payments to more than 35 million American families with children.
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) heads to a Democratic policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on Dec. 16, 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
In a statement, issued later Sunday, Manchin signaled that he could continue negotiating with Biden and other top Democrats on a scaled-back version of the bill. But the senator otherwise said he could not “vote to move forward with this mammoth piece of legislation,” which he said would “dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.”