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19 Dec, 2021 16:35

Joe Manchin to kill Biden’s signature bill

Joe Manchin to kill Biden’s signature bill

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has announced that he won’t support the mammoth ‘Build Back Better’ bill. His refusal dooms the Democratic Party’s efforts to pass a key piece of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can't. I tried everything humanly possible, I can't get there,” Manchin told Fox News host Bret Baier on Sunday, adding, “This is a no, on this legislation.”

Democrats currently hold the thinnest of majorities in the Senate. With control of the upper chamber split 50-50 between both parties and Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tie-breaking vote, Manchin’s defection is enough to consign the bill to the dustbin, at least in its present form.

The bill itself would dramatically expand America’s welfare system and invest heavily in green energy. It would also include funding for immigration reform, healthcare, and childcare, among other provisions. The bill comes with a price tag of around $2 trillion, although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would add some $367 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade, and conservative calculations say its programs could cost nearly $5 trillion if made permanent.

“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 said in a statement shortly after his Fox News appearance. Citing rising inflation, high gas and food prices, and the US’ “staggering” $29 trillion national debt, Manchin said he “cannot take that risk,” before accusing Biden and his fellow Democrats of trying to “camouflage the real cost” of the bill.

Manchin, who represents the second-largest coal producing state in the US, said that the bill’s climate provisions would “risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains.” 

The senator has for months met with Democrats all the way up to Biden in an attempt to bargain down the cost of the bill. Throughout this time, he has been hammered by op-eds in liberal news outlets, and hassled in public by climate activists. Now, with his opposition final, the bill has no clear route to becoming law.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki described Manchin’s decision not to back the bill as “inexplicable,” saying the West Virginian had been in discussion with Biden this week about a possible “compromise” bill.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,” she said.

Together with a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill signed into law last month, the Build Back Better Act formed the core of Biden’s legislative agenda. Its failure to pass comes at the end of a dismal year for the Democratic president, who has overseen an economy wracked by inflation, Covid-19 death tolls exceeding those under Donald Trump, humiliation on the foreign stage after a botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, and rock-bottom approval rates.

The fact that Manchin could single-handedly torpedo such a key piece of legislation has also been a source of frustration for the Biden administration. Asked this week whether Joe Manchin or Joe Biden was the “real president of this country,” Vice President Harris snapped at TV host Charlamagne Tha God, accusing him of “talking like a Republican.”