NEWSMAX: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday he cannot back his party’s signature $2 trillion social and environment bill, seemingly dealing a fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s leading domestic initiative heading into an election year when Democrats’ narrow hold on Congress was already in peril.
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Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” that he always has made clear he had reservations about the bill and that now, after five-and-half months of discussions and negotiations, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.” His choice of words suggested an openness to continuing talks, but all but said the bill would die unless it was reshaped to his terms.
In an unusually confrontational response to a senator whose vote is crucial, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Manchin’s statement “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position” and “a breach of his commitments” to Biden and congressional Democrats.
“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.
The legislation’s apparent collapse is sure to deepen the bitter ideological divisions within the Democratic Party between progressives and moderates. That would call into question whether Democrats will be able to join together behind any substantial legislation before the November congressional elections. And it adds a note of chaos just as Democrats need to demonstrate accomplishments and show a united front before the fall campaign.
The bill carries huge investments for helping millions of families with children, including extending a more generous child tax credit, creating free preschool and bolstering child care aid. There’s assistance to help people pay health care costs, new hearing benefits for Medicare recipients and provisions limiting price increases on prescription drugs.
Also included are funds for caring for the elderly, housing, job training and more than $500 billion for tax breaks and spending aimed at curbing climate change. Nearly all of it would be paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.
Manchin’s opposition puts it all on hold indefinitely. The West Virginia senator cited several factors weighing on the economy and the potential harm he saw from pushing through the “mammoth” bill, such as persistent inflation, a growing debt and the latest threat from the omicron variant.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this … if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” he said.
“I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it,” he said. “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”
Though Manchin has been Democrats’ main obstacle all year to pushing the massive package through the narrowly divided Congress, his declaration was a stunning repudiation of Biden’s and his party’s top goal. A rejection of the legislation had been seen by many as unthinkable because of the political damage it could inflict on Democrats.
Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., criticized Manchin for withdrawing his support and urged Democratic leaders to bring the bill to the floor anyway and force Manchin to oppose it.
“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 whole world, “ Sanders told CNN’s ”State of the Union.”
It is rare for a member of a president’s own party to administer a fatal blow to their paramount legislative initiative. Manchin’s decision called to mind the famous thumbs-down vote by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that killed President Donald Trump’s 2017 effort to repeal the health care law enacted under President Barack Obama.
“Infuriated,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., among the progressives fighting for a more robust Biden bill.
“We’ve had concerns about trusting Joe Manchin throughout the year,” Bowman said by telephone on Sunday. “Manchin is the one that is killing Biden’s agenda.
Even more centrist lawmakers piled on, vowing to keep fighting for Biden’s bill.
“After months of negotiations, one Democratic U.S. Senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations. That is unacceptable, and we cannot act like this moment is the end,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va. Continue reading on Newsmax.