UPDATE, DEC 21:
The Biden Administration is trying to appease Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia (pictured) after he sabotaged any possibility of passing the $2.2 trillion “Build Back Better” budget in the near future.
In contrast to her criticism of Manchin on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Senator Manchin had a strong statement yesterday, and we had a strong statement as well. And we’re ready to move forward and get this done and work like hell to do that.”
Five times she described Manchin and President Joe Biden as “longtime friends”.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York took a swipe at Manchin’s Fox TV appearance on Sunday, writing colleagues that he would pursue votes on a revised version of the plan in early 2022. He said he would “ensure every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television”.
Last week, before his Sunday statement that he “can’t get there” for the Administration’s version of the budget, Manchin’s counter-proposal included funds for climate change provisions — but not for “clean energy” initiatives to replace fossil fuels — universal pre-kindergarten, and expanded access to health care. However, he balked at an expanded version of the child tax credit.
On Monday, he continued to assail White House staff and senior Democrats, portraying himself as the victim: “They figured, surely to God we can move one person. Surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they’ll just say, ‘OK, I’ll vote for anything, just quit.’”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, saw Manchin yesterday but did not match the White House’s conciliation as she warned, “No one should think that we are going to be satisfied with an even smaller package.”
We did rely on the President’s word that he had a commitment from Joe Manchin, and I have said I don’t believe the President lied about that.
If the President of the United States cannot rely upon the commitment of a member of his own party, obviously, that’s a problem. That lack of integrity is stunning in a town where people say the only thing that you have is your word.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia ends any chance of passage of the historic “Build Back Better” budget in the near-future.
Manchin killed off the immediate hope for the $2 trillion initiative for economic, social, and environmental programs in an appearance on Fox TV on Sunday: “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”
In a 50-50 Senate, Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona demanded changes to the initial $3.5 trillion program, the most significant initiative since the New Deal of the 1930s. Backed by fossil fuel interest, he insisted on the removal of some “clean energy” initiatives, and he also demanded curbs on programs to ease child poverty and increase access to health care.
Despite the concessions, he insisted on further negotiations for months. They continued after the House passed the legislation last month.
Manchin has also blocked voting rights legislation, as the Supreme Court has further weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He has doomed any chance of changing the filibuster, used by Republicans to blockade any legislation which cannot get 60 votes for advance.
Notified by a Manchin aide 30 minutes before the Fox interview of the senator’s intentions, the White House tried to call him, but he refused to answer.
In a statement just after his TV appearance, Manchin proclaimed, “My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion.”
He made no comment about the sharp increase in debt under the Trump Administration and Republican leadership of the Senate, notably through the tax cuts of December 2017.
Economists have rejected the Senator’s declaration that the bill will fuel inflation, estimating that the net result is likely to be at most 0.1% to 0.2%.
With the setback to Build Back Better, Goldman Sachs cut its GDP growth forecast from 3% to 2% in the first quarter of 2022. It lowered the projection for the second quarter from 3.5% to 3%, and for the third quarter from 3% to 2.75%.
“This Cannot Be the End”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that Manchin had pledged on Tuesday to work with Administration officials to complete a compromise, offering his own outline that was close to a revised $1.85 trillion Administration package this autumn.
If his comments on Fox and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate….
[The budget] will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia summarized, “After months of negotiations, one Democratic US senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations. That is unacceptable, and we cannot act like this moment is the end. Children, families and the future of our planet are counting on us.”
Without passage of Build Back Better, an expanded $300 monthly payment to most families with children will end on December. The expansion of health care coverage, affecting an estimated 3.4 million people, improvement of Medicare benefits, and regulation of drug prices will be blocked.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, passed this autumn, includes more than $50 billion in incentives to deal with climate change; however, Build Back Better offered more than $500 billion.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Sunday, “I think [Manchin] is going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia to tell ’em why he doesn’t have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, why he is not prepared to expand home health care.”
Sen. Chris Coons of Connecticut noted, “This is a sharp departure from what [Manchin] was saying to many of his colleagues and to the president, just this week….I know he is still a Democrat because he believes in doing things that help working people, and I remain optimistic there is still a path forward. But this was a surprise and a disappointment.