Manchin says it’s a ‘no’ to Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, shattering hopes of its passage

WASHINGTON – Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said on Sunday he would not vote for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better law, deflating Democrats’ hopes to pass the nearly $ 2 trillion legislation to transform the country’s social safety net in the new year. .

“I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for and I can’t vote to continue with this bill. just can’t, “Manchin, a key centrist, told host Bret Baier on” Fox News Sunday “.

“It’s a no on this legislation,” he said. “I have tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it.”

Before making his announcement, Manchin conveyed his plan to the White House and Democratic leaders earlier Sunday, a source close to his thought said. He alerted them through a staff member, a second Democratic source said, less than an hour before his appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki hit back in a statement.

“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted – to the President, in person, directly – a written plan for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as framework of the President, and covered many of the same priorities, “Psaki said.” If his comments on FOX and his written statement indicate the end of this effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable turnaround in his position and a violation of his commitments to the President and to the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate. “

She said the administration “would continue to pressure Manchin to see if he would reverse his position again.”

“Perhaps Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part thanks to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that helps get to this milestone – we don’t. can’t, ”Psaki said.

The Senate adjourned early on Saturday as Democrats missed their self-imposed Christmas deadline to vote on the social spending package. The House passed a version of the law last month.

In a statement last week, Biden said he had a “productive call” Thursday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y ., after having met Manchin, but he also underlined the long negotiation process that awaits us.

Manchin said on Sunday: “I have tried everything I can do, and the president has worked diligently. It has been wonderful working with him. He knows I have had concerns and the problems I have. had. “

Manchin reiterated his concerns about the legislation in a statement after it appeared on Fox News, citing its cost and inflation.

“My fellow Democrats in Washington are determined to radically reshape our society in a way that makes our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face,” he said. “I can’t take this risk with massive debt over $ 29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and damaging to every American who works hard at gas pumps, grocery stores and utility bills. audiences with no end in sight. “

If the bill passes, he said, it “will jeopardize the reliability of our electricity grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains.”

Progressives in Congress were quick to criticize his comments.

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Manchin “will have a lot of explaining to do with the people of West Virginia.”

“We have dealt with Mr. Manchin month after month after month,” Sanders said. “But if he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for working families in West Virginia and America, let him vote no, in front of the world.”

Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Separately said on The State of the Union that Manchin was “obstructing” Biden’s agenda.

The legislation includes a monthly cash payment per child of up to $ 300 for most parents, funding for child care, universal kindergarten, an extension of Affordable Care Act grants and benefits. Medicare hearing aids. It would also commit $ 555 billion to tackle climate change, the largest such effort in U.S. history.

The bill would be funded by tax increases on top incomes and businesses, tighter IRS enforcement, and savings on prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain drugs.

Manchin, a 50-50 Senate mainstay, lashed out at reporters last week for pressing him over concerns, such as the inclusion of child tax credit payments, which expire at the end of the year .

Democrats have fashioned much of the current version of the bill around the demands of Manchin, which represents a ruby ​​red state which Biden lost by 39 points last year. Democrats this month indicated that other measures, such as guaranteed paid holidays and the $ 80,000 cap on federal deductions for state and local taxes, were likely to be removed or watered down to earn his vote.

Republicans had sought to influence Manchin by asking the Congressional Budget Office for an estimate of a revised version of the Build Back Better bill. The agency estimated it would add $ 3 trillion to the deficit from 2022 to 2031 assuming all temporary programs would be extended without being paid, although the current version does not include extensions to the provisions.

Some Republicans have praised Manchin.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a statement: “I very much appreciate Senator Manchin’s decision not to support Build Back Better, which stems from his understanding of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill. “.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement: “President Biden’s mega-bill is dead and Joe Manchin has put the nail in the coffin,” adding that development should serve as a “reality check for progressives crazy-eyed that they’re not the mainstream. “

Before Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure law last month, progressives pushed to tie it to the social spending plan, fearing that passing the infrastructure bill first would weaken their influence in developing and promoting the Build Back Better bill.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement that Manchin had “betrayed his commitment not only to the president and the Democrats in Congress, but especially to the American people.”

Jayapal noted last week that Biden promised progressives that he would be able to get 50 senators to support the Build Back Better bill.

A progressive colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., called on Democratic leaders for moving the infrastructure bill before the Build Back Better Act.

“When a handful of us in the House warned that this would happen if the Democratic leadership gave Manchin everything he wanted first by moving BIF to BBB instead of going together, many ridiculed our position,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a series of tweets. “Maybe they’ll believe us next time. Or maybe people will continue to call us naive.”

CORRECTION (December 19, 2021, 7:20 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the host’s first name of “Fox News Sunday.” It’s Bret Baier, not Brett.

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