Manchin says no to Biden’s Build Back Better plan


The Build Better Law – at least as currently written – died, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said sunday during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Whether he can be resurrected in a new form depends on Manchin.

The bill, which proposed $ 1.75 trillion in social and climate spending, has been on shaky ground for some time. Although the measure is a key item on President Joe Biden’s agenda, Manchin has for months expressed concerns about the scope and cost of the bill. Now Manchin, whose vote is crucial given the slim majority of Democrats in the Senate, says he will not support him amid concerns over the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising inflation.

“I cannot vote to continue with this bill”, Manchin Recount Fox News Sunday host Bret Baier. “It’s a no to this legislation. “

Manchin has repeatedly claimed that Build Back Better spending will rise and bolster inflation, although the White House and many economists have pushed back on the question. A letter from 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists supporting the policies of the bill argues that in the long run, it will actually slow inflation:

While we all have different views on the peculiarities of various economic policies, we believe that the key elements of this larger agenda are essential, including the tax reforms that make our tax system fairer and that enable our system. to raise the additional funds necessary to facilitate public investments and achieve our collective objectives. Because this program invests in long-term economic capacity and will improve the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease inflationary pressures in the long term.

At a Wall Street Journal event in December, when November’s Consumer Price Index figures showed inflation had risen 6.8% over the past year – the fastest rising and highest rate in nearly 40 years – Manchin said the new data proved economists’ arguments were wrong, although they did refer to longer-term trends. “We had people at the time who said that inflation would be transitory”, Manchin said. “We had 17 Nobel laureates who said it wouldn’t be a problem. Well, 17 Nobel laureates got it wrong.

It remains possible that Manchin will support a different social spending program, although it is not clear what that might look like.

Biden’s national agenda suffered a serious setback

Any Senator has the power to derail Build Better, because Democrats have the narrowest majority in Congress and hoped to pass the bill through the budget reconciliation process. This allows legislation to be passed by simple majority in both houses of Congress as long as its provisions are tied to budgetary matters, thereby bypassing filibuster in the Senate.

As the most conservative member of the slim Democratic majority in the Senate, Manchin used his position to exert a disproportionate influence on the bill from the outset, both its costs and its content. Largely due to Manchin’s priorities, what started out as a $ 3.5 trillion bill fell to around $ 1.85 trillion by the time it passed the House, and was facing to further cuts to the Senate.

Manchin last week quashed Democrats’ hopes that the bill could pass the Senate before the chamber recess, again over cost and scope concerns. This forced Congress will close its 2021 session early Saturday morning after a series of ambassadorial and judicial confirmations.

The White House had been trying for months, and especially over the past week, to get Manchin to adhere to the legislation. Democrats in Congress view Manchin’s about-face as a betrayal, given that they passed Biden’s infrastructure bill on the understanding that the White House and Senate would reciprocate and pass the bill. on social spending.

“You might remember that the deal from the start was that there was only one package: one part would be the bipartite infrastructure, but the other part would be all of these things that are now in Build. Back Better, ”Senator Elizabeth Warren (D -MA) said on Sunday.

In a scathing statement Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Manchin reneged on previous promises with the White House to back the bill and continue negotiations.

“While 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 the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” he said. writes Psaki.

The implications of the potential demise of the bill are enormous.

It contained a measure extending the expanded child tax credit adopted by Democrats in response to the pandemic. This credit sent monthly payments to almost all American parents, and Significantly reduces child poverty in its first year of existence, but its last payment was made on Wednesday and the program will now expire. If extended by the Build Back Better Act, it could reduce poverty by 40% in the future, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Plus, as Vox’s Rebecca Leber pointed out, ending the Build Back Better Act could be the end of a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tackle climate change.

While Manchin had previously expressed a desire to strike a deal with Biden and the Progressive Democrats on the bill, he is also made it clear that he wants to limit any new spending. He sent a proposal to Senate Democrats in July, saying he wanted to keep the costs of the reconciliation bill at $ 1.5 trillion, Politico reported at the time.

That proposal included a tax plan to help cover the cost of the bill, with any additional income going to reduce the deficit, one of Manchin’s lingering concerns. At the time, he also asked the Federal Reserve to begin its plan to cut inflation, which it has now committed to do.

“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,” Manchin said in his statement. “I cannot take this risk with massive debt of 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. “

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reacted to the news on CNN State of the Union On Sunday, telling host Jake Tapper: “Well, I think he’s going to have a lot of explanation for the people of West Virginia,” chiding Manchin for refusing to pass the legislation, which would also reduce prescription drug costs, expand Medicaid, and provide funds to increase home health care.

A number of lawmakers, including Sanders and Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) said on Sunday that the bill is expected to be put to a vote in January despite Manchin’s statement, essentially challenging him to vote against a bill that is a Democratic and presidential priority.

“If Senator Joe Manchin wants to vote against the Build Back Better Act, he should have the option of doing so with a floor vote as soon as he returns from the Senate,” Sanders wrote in a Sunday statement, adding that he found it “amusing” that Manchin approves the National Defense Authorization Act at nearly $ 780 billion in military spending while avoiding the social programs of the Build Back Better Act.

Many progressives in the House echoed this statement, while strongly criticizing Manchin; Rep Ilhan Omar (D-MN) called Manchin’s claim that he “did everything he could” to reconcile his priorities with Build Back Better “bullshit” in a Sunday tweet, while his colleagues from the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a critical statement, calling Manchin’s comments treason. “He regularly brags that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say it,” the CCP wrote in the statement. “Virginians of the West and the country, see clearly who he is. “

Republicans, for their part, hailed Manchin’s decision to hijack the bill, which has been universally opposed by the GOP from the start.

“President Biden’s mega spending bill is dead and Joe Manchin set the nail in the coffin,” Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement. “This should be a reality check for the wild-eyed progressives that they are not the mainstream: With a country divided, a 50-50 Senate and runaway inflation, the American people do not want to turn this country upside down. with openly partisan legislation. . “

Although Manchin’s statement seems pretty definitive and has been interpreted that way in some casesIt is not clear whether this is really the end of Biden’s domestic policy agenda.

As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explained on Sunday, it is possible that Manchin is “completely rooted against any form of Build Back Better”. However, his appearance on Sunday Fox News could also be a negotiating tactic – a strategy Manchin used previously to push for changes to Democrats’ voting rights bill, the For the People Act.

In his statement on Sunday, Manchin did not completely shut the door on future negotiations, and it is ultimately unclear what will follow for Build Back Better.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to meet the needs of all Americans and do so in a way that does not endanger the independence, security and way of life of our nation. “said Manchin.


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