Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin’s houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks to reporters as he leaves the Capitol after a cloture vote to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling on Monday, September 27, 2021.
Greg Nash

Advocates from several groups demonstrated outside of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) houseboat on Monday, protesting the senator’s opposition to Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package.

Representatives from Young West Virginia, Race Matters WV, the Center for Popular Democracy Action, CASA — the largest grassroots immigrant advocacy organization in the mid-Atlantic area — and Greenpeace USA protested outside of Manchin’s houseboat in Washington, D.C., in their own boats and kayaks to protest his opposition to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, a key component of President Biden’s legislative agenda.

The protesters held signs that read “Don’t sink West Virginia,” “Manchin pass the bill,” “BBB brings jobs to WV” — referring to Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda — and “No climate no deal.” 

Manchin has been voicing opposition to the package’s top-line spending amount. 

The moderate senator has also called on his party to “pause” deliberations on the spending bill and at one point reportedly said Democrats should hold off on discussions for the package until 2022, as the House prepared to hold a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Those stances, however, are angering progressives in the party, most of whom are advocating for the price tag of the package to remain as proposed, and for the legislation to be passed before they vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Greenpeace USA wrote in a statement that Manchin has “repeatedly tried to drop anchor on this critical deal to protect his own fossil fuel and corporate interests,” adding, “It’s time to put the interests of working class Americans, for whom this important investment in roads, bridges, health care, safe drinking water, and clean energy is a matter of life or death, first.”

The group said the demonstrators joined together “in a celebration of unity in their support for much needed investments into healthcare, climate action, and jobs in the Build Back Better Act.”

Greenpeace USA also said Monday was the first day of flotilla protests outside Manchin’s houseboat, signaling that more demonstrations could come in the future.

“In West Virginia, it’s no secret that we need jobs, we need healthcare, we need to get ahead of the transition to clean energy, we need lower prescription drug prices. And the reconciliation bill provides for all that at no cost! It’s paid for by taxing the rich and big corporations, and letting Medicare negotiate drug prices,” Takeiya Smith, executive director of Young West Virginia, said in a statement.

“This is the moment to deliver a historic package to West Virginians and all Americans, and we need Sen. Manchin to move it forward, not hold it back. We’ve been in the streets and in his offices in WV, and now we’re here in DC, at his yacht, to tell him to listen to his constituents. Pass this bill,” she added.

The Hill reached out to Manchin’s office for comment.

Updated Sept. 28, 10:59 a.m.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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