(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., seems to have sealed the fate of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill on “Fox News Sunday,” when he announced that he is a “no” on the legislation.
“I’ve always said if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” Manchin said.
Despite working “every day” for five months with different members of the party to get there on the legislation, Manchin said his concerns about inflation and the cost of the program still stand.
“You’re done? This is a no?” host Bret Baier asked.
“This is a no on this piece of legislation. I have tried everything I know to do,” Manchin replied, adding that Biden worked “diligently” and was “wonderful to work with” but knew he had concerns.
Manchin’s comments effectively end Democrats’ hopes of passing Biden’s $1.75 trillion social spending plan, which passed the House last month, with Democratic votes alone. Manchin is the crucial 50th vote needed to get the bill across the line.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has issued a lengthy statement that Manchin’s bombshell announcement Sunday is “at odds” with what he indicated in private negotiations earlier this week — confirming the White House was caught off guard by Manchin’s news, and unleashing on the senator for the “sudden and inexplicable reversal of his position.”
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki said Sunday. ” If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
While Manchin recognized that the party had negotiated down from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ initial proposal of $6 trillion, he felt shortening the timelines of the “aspirational goals” included in the bill was not a genuine answer to the issue.
“The thing that never changed Bret, was basically the same amount of things that they’re trying to accomplish by just changing, if you will, the amount of time that we can depend on it,” Manchin said Sunday on Fox. “So if you’re going to do something and do it, pick what we’re apprised priorities are like most people do in their families, or their businesses, and you fund them for 10 years and you make sure they deliver the services for 10 years,” Manchin argued.
Manchin argued COVID-19 and inflation should be where the country is focusing its fire, rather than dragging out the negotiations further.
“I’ve tried. I mean, I really did and the President was trying as hard as he could. He has an awful lot –A lot of irons in the fire right now — more on his plate than he needs for this to continue when I’m having the difficulties I’m having and basically the challenges we have from different parts of our party basically pushing in different ways,” Manchin said.
Manchin also said it was “not right” that he was getting all the attention for his concerns over the bill, but said he wasn’t going to speak for other Senators who also might have concerns with the mammoth legislation.
It was just Thursday that Biden put out a statement that the negotiations with Manchin would continue this week.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has been one of the senators leading the charge on the Build Back Better bill in Senate, responded to Manchin’s no vote on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Well, I think he’s gonna have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia,” Sanders said, ticking through the benefits the bill would provide like lowering prescription drug costs, expanding Medicaid and helping to pay for childcare.
“I would have hoped that we could have had at least 50 Democrats on board who have the guts to stand up for working families and take on the lobbyists and the powerful special interests,” Sanders said on CNN. “We have no Republicans, not one Republican in the United States Senate or the House for that matter is prepared to stand up to the drug companies or the insurance companies or wealthy.”
Sanders was not shy about telling Americans who are concerned about losing their monthly Child Tax Credit payments to blame Sen. Manchin.
“If Mr. Manchin Votes no, those $300 tax credits that have gone a long way to reduce childhood poverty in America- they’re gone. That’s over. We cut childhood poverty by over 40%, an extraordinary accomplishment. Manchin doesn’t want to do that, tell that to the struggling families of West Virginia and America,” Sanders said.
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