Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has effectively doomed President Joe Biden’s pricy social spending plan, telling “Fox News Sunday” that he will not vote for the legislation.
Manchin has been a thorn in Biden’s side with regards to the president’s $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, repeatedly raising questions about its cost amid inflation problems, but never officially announcing whether he’d back the bill. On Sunday, Manchin appeared to give his final answer on whether he’ll vote for the House-passed version of Biden’s bill, telling Fox News’ Bret Baier that he’s “a no.”
“If I can’t go home and explain to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” Manchin explained. “And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no on this piece of legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”
Manchin’s announcement is a big loss for Democrats, as his vote is needed to pass Biden’s agenda through the Senate. Manchin noted his efforts in coming to an agreement on the plan – he’s had multiple talks with Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others – but ultimately, concerns about inflation, the federal debt and more made his decision final.
.@BretBaier: “Your number at the beginning was $1.7T. Where is the disconnect that you are now a “no”?
Sen. Manchin (D-WV): “At $1.5T is where I thought the most that we could do if we just did it & basically took care of the things that we thought were the highest priorities.” pic.twitter.com/Gwbp1zoQA5
— The Recount (@therecount) December 19, 2021
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” Manchin said, later adding in a statement that his “concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.”
Biden, well aware he needed Manchin on board to pass the pricy bill, spoke with the West Virginia senator last week as the self-imposed deadline to pass the legislation by Christmas drew near. Publicly, both the White House and Manchin declined to say much about the talks, with the administration calling one of the calls “good” and Manchin simply noting he was “engaged” with Biden.
Manchin said the administration and lawmakers’ focus needs to “immediately” be on inflation, which recently reached its highest level in 39 years. He pointed out that the rise in inflation could “harm a lot of Americans” and also raised concerns about COVID-19 and the new Omicron variant. (RELATED: Over 60% Of Americans Say Biden’s Policies Are To Blame For Accelerating Inflation)
“It’s affecting our lives again,” Manchin said of COVID-19, adding that Biden has been well aware of the “concerns and the problems” he’s had with voting “yes” on the bill.
The White House is aware of Manchin’s decision not to vote for Build Back Better but has not yet commented publicly. Biden often expressed optimism that Manchin would eventually get on board, saying in September that “Joe, at the end, has always been there … with me.”