Senate

Democrats outraged after Manchin opposes Biden spending bill

Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) announcement that he will vote against the Build Back Better Act rocked the political world on Sunday, with Democrats slamming their fellow colleague and Republicans celebrating the centrist senator’s decision, which effectively kills the party’s chances of passing the behemoth legislation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the West Virginia Democrat is “gonna have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia” because he “doesn’t have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests.”

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

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), one of the six progressive lawmakers who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill in November in opposition to the party moving forward without also approving the social spending and climate package, said Manchin is “obstructing the president’s agenda. He is obstructing the people’s agenda.”

She also said the centrist Democrat “has continued to move the goal posts” and “has never negotiated in good faith.”

“We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the president’s agenda, to obstruct the people’s agenda. Jake, all I want for Christmas is a senator that has compassion for the American people and not contempt,” Pressley added.

Both Sanders and Pressley said the Senate should still hold a vote on the bill regardless of Manchin’s opposition. Democrats cannot afford a single defection in order for the reconciliation bill to pass with 50 votes.

After months of tireless negotiations among lawmakers and with the White House, Manchin announced on Sunday that he will not vote for the Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate package, telling Fox News’s Bret Baier on Sunday, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.”

“I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” he added on “Fox News Sunday,” later saying, “This is a no on this legislation.”

In a statement following his appearance, Manchin cited rising prices, inflation, dependence on foreign supply chains and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons he was unable to support the bill that is central to President Biden’s legislative agenda.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) said Manchin’s intent to vote “no” on the Build Back Better Act is “an outrage,” adding that “of course” Manchin is siding with Republicans.

“The Grinch just stole Christmas for many and don’t expect any last minute Dr. Seuss happy ending. After 6 months of talking and talking, Joe Manchin finally made it unequivocal, on Fox News, of course, he’s with the Republicans,” Doggett wrote in a tweet.

Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) told MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” that he was frustrated by Manchin’s decision but that it was “not a huge shock.”

Republicans, however, are celebrating Manchin’s announcement, hailing the West Virginia Democrat as a savior who crushed the Democrats’ chances of passing the massive spending package the GOP was starkly opposed to.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Biden’s “mega-spending bill is dead and Joe Manchin put the nail in the coffin,” adding that the effective defeat of the legislation should serve as a “reality check to wild-eyed progressives” that Americans are not in favor of upending the U.S. with “nakedly-partisan legislation” with a divided country, 50-50 split Senate and high inflation.

“Joe Manchin deserves credit for listening to West Virginians, rather than to bullies and screamers who follow those who disagree into bathrooms and who shut down traffic,” Sasse added.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he “very much appreciate[s]” Manchin’s decision not to support the legislation, which he said “stems from his understanding of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill.”

Graham had requested that the Congressional Budget Office analyze the Build Back Better Act as if its provisions were being made permanent, which found that the legislation would add $3 trillion in deficit spending. Republicans had hoped that the new score would sway Manchin to delay negotiations for the bill.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who was one of the 13 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill last month, said “Successfully unhooking” the Build Back Better Act from the infrastructure bill “allowed us to truly focus on what this country really needed versus more unchecked inflationary spending.”

In a separate tweet he said Congress knew “we simply could not kick the can down the road and do nothing to fix our crumbling infrastructure past another election or two, but instead prioritize what we could do now in a bipartisan way – actually governing in this gridlocked Congress.”

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tags Alex Padilla Ayanna Pressley Ben Sasse Bernie Sanders Fred Upton Joe Biden Joe Manchin Lindsey Graham Lloyd Doggett Mike Johnson Roger Marshall

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