Surprise! The Democratic Party’s favorite contrarian Senator is refusing to pass Build Back Better.
“Joe Manchin Just Tore Out the Heart of Biden’s Agenda,” lamented Rolling Stone this morning. The sentiment was echoed across social media as liberal journalists and pundits decried Manchin’s deflection, a bomb he casually lobbed on the Sunday morning FOX news circuit.
“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin told FOX News host Bret Baier.
“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,” Manchin explained in a follow-up press release. “I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”
“The American people deserve transparency on the true cost of the Build Back Better Act,” Manchin said in his statement. “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined the cost is upwards of $4.5 trillion which is more than double what the bill’s ardent supporters have claimed. They continue to camouflage the real cost of the intent behind this bill.”
“If enacted, the bill will also risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains,” Manchin complained.
“The energy transition my colleagues seek is already well underway in the United States of America,” he went on. “In the last two years, as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with bipartisan support, we have invested billions of dollars into clean energy technologies so we can continue to lead the world in reducing emissions through innovation.”
“But to do so at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow will have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years,” Manchin claimed.
The White House is said to have gotten little notice Manchin intended to abandon BBB.
“Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in response.
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted — to the President, in person, directly — a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki continued.
“Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word,” Psaki finished, in a statement unlikely to sway Manchin.
Unsurprisingly, progressive lawmakers are not pleased with this development. Some wasted no time in taking to Twitter to remind their fellow Democrats why progressives were reluctant to pass the infrastructure bill separately.
“Either way, we cannot accept no for an answer,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez continued in a statement she posted to Twitter. “Dem leadership — incl but not limited to the President himself and House Dem leadership — wrote a massive check on their credibility the night of the BIF vote in order to secure the votes they needed, *promising* passage of BBB.”
“To every member who brought up Manchin, they personally promised they had a solution & BBB would pass,” Ocasio-Cortez raged. “It is simply not an option for Dem leaders to walk from BBB, voting rights, etc. They must find a way, just as they promised they would when we raised this inevitability.”
“People can be mad at Manchin all they want, but we knew he would do this months ago,” the New York lawmaker wrote on Twitter. “Where we need answers from are the leaders who promised a path on BBB if BIF passed: Biden & Dem leaders. *They* chose to move BIF alone instead of w/ BBB, not Manchin. So they need to fix it.”
“We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted. The excuses that he just made, I think, are complete bullshit,” Rep. Ilhan Omar told MSNBC host Ali Velshi.
“The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans,” the Minnesota Congresswoman posted to Twitter afterwards. “This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Manchin goes on Fox to kill BBB — he’s been promising to do it for months, and some folks didn’t want to believe him. We gave up our leverage the moment BIF passed and he got the fossil fuel subsidies he wanted,” echoed Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
“We, as always, are here to fight for this agenda,” Ocasio-Cortez vowed. “What matters most to us is that it gets done. But we cannot just shrug our shoulders and accept this as some Charlie Brown moment. Our entire democracy is on the line. So we need to get back in there & get this sh*t done. Period.”
However disappointed progressive lawmakers are, there doesn’t appear to be much they can do about it.
As such, House and Senate leadership may have a great deal more trouble keeping progressives to the party line in future. There aren’t going to be any more good faith votes today on promised future spending packages tomorrow.
Getting progressives to pass the infrastructure bill without BBB was a good trick; but it is unlikely to work more than once.
Not as long as Joe Manchin sits astride the Senate.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)