In a surprise move, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has once again defied the pressure of the progressives in his own party, as well as from President Biden himself saying that he will not vote for the left’s sprawling Build Back Better Act.
Manchin’s announcement stunned the White House. The Senator from West Virginia had met only days earlier with President Biden and promised him that with a little further negation, he would vote yes for the President’s signature piece of legislation.
Speaking with “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin said that he has spoken with President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., but could not reach an agreement on the legislation.
“I’ve done everything humanly possible,” Manchin said, talking about how hard he has worked to try to reach an acceptable compromise on the bill.
In the end, however, he said that between ongoing inflation, the national debt, “geopolitical unrest,” and the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill being pushed by his fellow Democrats was too much.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now … I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” he said, stating that if he cannot explain to his constituents why he would vote for a bill, then he cannot vote for it, despite all the work he and other Democrats have put into trying to make it work.
“This is a no,” he said. “I have tried everything I know to do.”
Manchin acknowledged that there were aspects of the bill he was in favor of, but it was just too hefty for him to justify voting for it.
“There’s a lot of good, but that bill is a mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin said, pointing out that it is not even being voted on like a normal bill but being pushed through budget reconciliation.
The West Virginia senator said that instead of trying to pass such a large spending bill, Congress should be more focused on tackling the omicron variant of COVID-19 that has led to rising case numbers. He also said the government should be addressing inflation that has “harmed a lot of Americans.”
“Inflation is real; it’s not going away any time soon,” he said.
Manchin had previously proposed a $1.7 trillion price tag for the spending package, but he said his Democratic colleagues did not make the necessary compromises. He did note that both he and President Biden tried hard to make it work.
“What we need to do is get our financial house in order, but be able to pay for what we do and do what we pay for,” he said.