Sen. Joe Manchin, D.W.Va., was at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 30. Despite being cajoled and courted for months, Manchin has yet to say yes to President Joe Biden’s $2 Trillion domestic package. (J. Scott Applewhite and Associated Press).
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WASHINGTON Democratic Senator Joe Manchin stated Sunday that he could not support his party’s $2 trillion social and environmental bill. This is potentially fatal for President Joe Biden’s most important domestic initiative going into an election year in which Democrats’ narrow hold on Congress was already in danger.
Manchin said to Fox News Sunday, that he always had reservations about the legislation, and that now, after 5 years of negotiations, “I can’t vote to continue with this piece.”
The White House didn’t immediately comment. Biden was spending the weekend at Wilmington, Delaware.
The apparent collapse in legislation is certain to deepen the ideological divides within the Democratic Party between moderates, progressives, and others. It would be difficult for Democrats to unite behind any substantive legislation prior to the November congressional elections. It adds chaos to the mix, just as Democrats need accomplishments and a united front for the fall campaign.
We need to be upfront and prioritize.
–Sen. Joe Manchin, D.West Virginia
The senator from West Virginia cited a variety of factors that weighed on the economy and the potential damage he saw from pushing through “mammoth,” such as persistent inflation and growing debt, and the latest threat from omicron.
“When these things come at you the way that they are, I’ve always stated this… If I can’t explain it to the people in West Virginia, then I can’t vote.”
“I tried everything humanly feasible.” He said that he couldn’t do it. “This legislation is a no.” I have tried everything that I know.”
Although Manchin has been the main obstacle for Democrats all year in pushing the massive package through narrowly divided Congress, his declaration to opposition was a shocking repudiation of Biden and his party’s top goal. Many considered a rejection of the legislation impossible because of the potential political damage it could cause to Democrats.
It is not often for a member from a president’s party to deliver a fatal blow against their most important legislative initiative. Manchin’s decision brought back the famous thumbs down vote by Senator John McCain, R.Ariz. that killed President Donald Trump’s 2017 attempt to repeal the Obama-era health care law.
Biden acknowledged last week that negotiations over his comprehensive domestic policy package would likely continue into the new year despite Manchin’s stubborn opposition. But, the president insisted that Manchin had reiterated his support of a framework that the senators, the White House, and other Democrats had agreed upon for the flagship bill.
Manchin made it clear that these were Biden’s words on Sunday. After initially agreeing to a $1.5 trillion framework, the senator criticised fellow lawmakers for a bill that “hasn’t shrunk”. He also stated that social programs must be funded for more than 10 years to win his support. This was a nonstarter because of cost.
For example, extending the child tax credit program for the full 10-year budget period would cost well above $1 trillion. This would consume the majority of Biden’s bill and crowd out other key initiatives in education, health care, and child care.
Manchin stated that “we should be upfront and pick our priorities.”
The bill includes huge investments to help millions of families with kids, including free preschool and bolstering child-care aid. Assistance to pay for healthcare costs, new hearing benefit for Medicare recipients, and provisions to limit price increases on prescription drugs are all included.
Let him vote no if he isn’t willing to do the right things for the West Virginia working families and America.
–Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont
Funds for elderly care, housing, job training, and more than $500 billion in tax breaks and spending to curb climate change are also included. It would almost all be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy or large corporations.
A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, released earlier this month, stated that if many of the bill’s temporary spending boosts or tax cuts were made permanent it would add $3 trillion in cost. This would increase the bill’s 10-year cost by more than twice to $5 trillion. Democrats called the projections in the Republican-requested study fictitious.
I-Vt. Sen Bernie Sanders criticised Manchin for withholding his support. He urged Democratic leaders and the House to bring the bill up to the floor and force Manchin into opposition.
Sanders stated that Sanders should vote no if he does not have the courage to do the right things for the West Virginia families and America’s working families.