"Bulls---": Colleagues blast Joe Manchin for killing Biden's Build Back Better agenda

"He doesn’t have the courage to stand up to powerful special interests," Sen. Bernie Sanders said

By Common Dreams staff

Published December 20, 2021 5:00AM (EST)

Sen. Joe Manchin (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Sen. Joe Manchin (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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"I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation," Mr. Manchin said on "Fox News Sunday, "I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there. This is a no."

The comments from Mr. Manchin dealt a fatal blow to the legislation that is central to President Joe Biden's agenda.

"I think he's gonna have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."


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Sanders said Manchin "doesn't have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests."  "We've been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month. But 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 added.

In a statement following his CNN appearance, Sanders said:

"If Sen. Joe Manchin wants to vote against the Build Back Better Act, he should have the opportunity to do so with a floor vote as soon as the Senate returns. He should have to explain to West Virginians and the American people why he doesn't have the courage to stand up to powerful special interests and lower prescription drug costs; expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and eyeglasses; continue the $300 per child direct monthly payment which has cut childhood poverty by over 40%; and address the devastating impacts of climate change. He should also have to explain why he is not prepared to demand that millionaires and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

"I also find it amusing that Sen. Manchin indicates his worry about the deficit after voting just this week for a military budget of $778 billion, four times greater than Build Back Better over ten years and $25 billion more than the president requested." Manchin, a rightwing Democrat, put out a statement after his FOX News appearance detailing his decision to vote against the bill, pointed to rising prices, inflation, dependence on foreign supply chains and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), also on CNN's "State of the Union, said "He has continued to move the goalposts, he has never negotiated in good faith. and he is obstructing the President's agenda. 85 percent of which is still left on the table. And in obstructing the president's agenda, he is obstructing the people's agenda."

"We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the president's agenda, to obstruct the people's agenda. Jake, all I want for Christmas is a senator that has compassion for the American people and not contempt," Pressley added.

Pressley was one of just six progressive lawmakers who voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill in November to show their opposition to moving forward with the legislation without also passing the social spending and climate package.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, (D-Minn.) in a tweet Sunday morning, said: "Let's be clear: Manchin's excuse is bullshit. The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans. This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure."

President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer had promised that the Build Back Better bill would be passed after the bipartisan infrastructure bill, reversing previous vows to approve the two measures at the same time.

Back in June, Pelosi said: "Let me be really clear on this: There ain't gonna be no bipartisan bill, unless we have a reconciliation bill." She reiterated: "As I said, there won't be an infrastructure bill, unless we have a reconciliation bill. Plain and simple. In fact, I use the word ain't. There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill, unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate." 


Common Dreams staff

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Build Back Better Common Dreams Congress Fox News Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Joe Manchin Politics Senate