Manchin says he won’t vote for Build Back Better Act

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By Daniella Diaz, CNN

(CNN) – Democratic Senator. Joe manchin from West Virginia said it was a no on the Rebuild Better Act, thus ending negotiations on this version of the legislation that would expand the country’s social safety net.

Manchin has always been a key part of the legislation, sharing his concerns about certain provisions of the massive tax and spending bill and how this may exacerbate galloping inflation in the countryside.

“And I can’t vote to continue with this bill. I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it,” he said on Fox. News Sunday “. “It’s a no to this legislation. I have tried everything I can do. And the president has worked diligently. It has been wonderful working with him. He knows that I have had concerns and problems. I’ve had and, you know, the thing we should all be directing our attention to is the variant, a Covid that we’ve got coming back to us in so many different ways in different ways, it’s affecting our lives again. . “

Manchin’s support for the bill – a $ 1.9 trillion spending plan focused on expanding the nation’s social safety net, reducing Americans’ childcare and healthcare costs, and climate change – is needed for Democrats to pass this legislation using a process called budget reconciliation , which means he would only need 51 votes to pass it.

In a statement released by his office after the interview, Manchin reiterated that he could not support the legislation.

“I always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain West Virginia’s vast Build Back Better Act and I cannot vote to move this massive bill forward, ”he said in the statement.

A person familiar with the talks between President Joe Biden and Manchin told CNN it was clear Manchin was heading in that direction as Biden privately told his assistants this week that he was no longer convinced of finally be able to rally the Democrat of West Virginia. But White House officials were surprised when Manchin informed them on Sunday morning that he had already come to a final decision.

Their reaction was obviously not positive, according to the source. A senior administration official told CNN it was “totally a surprise.” Manchin informed the White House that they were the first to know about it and he hadn’t even told his staff yet.

Two sources familiar with how Manchin’s position was communicated said CNN staff in the Manchin office communicated directly with the White House and Democratic leaders about 30 to 40 minutes before Manchin aired on Fox.

Responding to criticism from progressives, Manchin was suspending the bill because he did not support the bill, he said he supported holding a vote for the bill.

“Here’s the problem, when it’s time to vote, that’s what I’m saying. Just vote. If that’s what people need to show where they are, then vote,” he said on Fox News.

He added: “They tried to make that adjustment, that adjustment, or just trying to make the adjustment for time to fit money or money to fit time, without changing. our approach, without targeting the things we should be doing. Ensuring that the people who really need it get it. Ensuring that we can do things in a much better way. We have things that we can do it in a bipartisan fashion, the way the Senate is supposed to work if we “I’ll just let it go.” Just browse the committees, let’s work on them. “

CNN has reached out to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for comment.

White House issues damning statement against Manchin

In a notable statement attacking a member of Biden’s own party, the White House said Manchin’s comments were “at odds with his discussions this week with the president, with White House staff, and with his own public statements.” . The statement gives what the White House claimed to be details of Manchin’s talks with the president; something the administration hesitated to do.

“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted – to the President, in person, directly – a written plan for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as framework of the president, and covered many of the same priorities, “White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in the statement. “While this framework lacked key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.”

According to Psaki, Manchin “promised to continue the conversations in the days to come and to work with us to reach that common ground.”

“While his comments on FOX and his written statement indicate the end of this effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable turnaround in his position and a violation of his commitments to the President and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” he said. said Psaki.

Psaki added: “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 again, to honor his previous commitments and be true to his word.” the press release. bed.

How Manchin got there

Manchin had previously raised several concerns about the legislation, which was passed by the Democratic-controlled House last month. He wanted to lower the bill in several areas, including paid family leave, methane charges on energy producers’ emissions and an extension of Medicare to cover hearing costs. He was also seeking to amend certain provisions of the tax portion of the bill.

On the climate provisions of the legislation, Manchin had been negotiating for weeks with the President of the Senate for the Environment and Public Works, Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware. Sticking points included when the program would start and when it would increase – as well as the levels of methane companies could emit before paying fees to the Environmental Protection Agency.

He said in his statement that he was concerned about what the legislation would do to the country’s electricity grid.

“If enacted, the bill will also jeopardize the reliability of our electricity grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains. The energy transition that my colleagues are seeking is already well underway in the United States of America, ”he said in his press release. “Over the past two years, as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with bipartisan support, we have invested billions of dollars in clean energy technologies so that we can continue to be the leader. worldwide in reducing emissions through innovation. But to do so at a faster rate than technology or the markets allow, will have catastrophic consequences for the American people, as we have seen in Texas and California over the past two years. “

Manchin also worried about what the legislation would do to the country’s growing debt and skyrocketing inflation after Congress passed a sweeping stimulus bill earlier this year, as well as of the bipartite infrastructure bill.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze the Build Back Better law whether the programs it contained did not end, but were extended for the full 10 years, which Republicans said would show the real truth. cost of legislation. CBO’s analysis of the hypothetical legislation said it would cost more than $ 5,000 billion over 10 years.

Manchin objected to the structure of the bill, arguing Democrats were hiding the true costs of the bill by relying on temporary programs that will be extended year on year. He has repeatedly said he wants to keep the price at $ 1.75 trillion, but said the inclusion of temporary measures – such as a one-year extension of the tax credit extension for children, which expires at the end of this month – is not “transparent”. to the public about the impact it would have on federal spending.

In the end, this became one of Manchin’s biggest concerns and led to his decision.

“There are a lot of good things, but this bill is a gigantic bill, a gigantic bill, and when done even through a regular order it would be a huge, huge undertaking. “, did he declare.

Graham praised Manchin for his decision to vote no in a statement Sunday morning.

“I very much appreciate Senator Manchin’s decision not to support Build Back Better, which stems from his understanding of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill,” he said.

Progressives are not happy

Progressive Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont harshly criticized Manchin for withdrawing his support, saying “I think he’s going to have a lot of explanation for the people of West Virginia” and calling on Democrats to submit the bill to a vote on the ground to put pressure on Manchin to vote unofficially.

“I hope we bring a strong bill to the Senate as soon as possible and let Mr. Manchin explain to the people of West Virginia why he lacks the courage to stand up to powerful vested interests,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday on “State of the Union”.

“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 world,” Sanders added.

Representative Ayanna Pressley, a progressive Democrat, echoed Sanders ‘criticism of Manchin by announcing that he will not support BBB and said she supports Sanders’ call to bring the bill to the a vote on the ground to force Manchin to vote unofficially.

Pressley told CNN on Sunday she was skeptical of passing the social safety net bill because of Manchin, saying “he kept moving the goalposts, which he didn’t has never negotiated in good faith and is obstructing the president’s agenda. “

“We cannot allow a single senator from West Virginia to obstruct the president’s agenda, to obstruct the people’s agenda,” Pressley said on “State of the Union.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Tapper in an interview on Friday that she expected this to happen, which is why they wanted a vote on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed earlier this year and for the Build Back Better Act.

“That’s what we feared. That’s why we tied the two bills together to get them through the House,” she said on Friday. “And we believed in the president’s word that he would get 50 votes in the Senate.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Bernie Sanders’ political affiliation.

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