U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters before the start of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 21, 2021.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat, said Sunday he won’t support the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” plan.
Manchin’s decision will likely kill the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate policy bill as it is now. Democrats need Manchin’s vote in the 50-50 Senate, plus a tie-breaker from Vice President Kamala Harris.
“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. 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,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” saying he was concerned with adding to the national debt.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Manchin’s decision represents “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
Psaki added that Manchin had committed to President Joe Biden that he would support the Build Back Better framework. He also promised last week “to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground.”
“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,” Psaki added in the statement.
NBC News previously reported that that talks between Biden and Machin had been going “very poorly” and they were “far apart” on the proposal. Prior to making his public announcement, Manchin informed the White House and other Democratic leaders of his decision, NBC News reported.
Representatives for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Several Democratic lawmakers viewed the legislation as the key to boosting working families and showing voters they can govern before the 2022 midterms. But outstanding issues, like the enhanced child tax credit, led to decreased confidence among some legislators.
Failure to pass the plan in 2021 will have immediate impacts. The enhanced child tax credit of up to $300 a month per child will expire at the end of the year unless Congress extends it. The last payments to families went out Wednesday, and the Build Back Better Act would renew them for a year.
The opposition also comes amid a renewed surge of Covid-19 cases and the highly contagious omicron variant. The rise in cases is forcing some to return to shutdowns and quarantines. The bill would provide financial support to families that need childcare assistance.
A failure to act could also affect the midterms. Democrats have tried to show voters progress as Republicans appear favored to regain control of the House, and, potentially, the Senate.
After Manchin threw cold water on the bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont progressive, still called for a vote on the legislation. Manchin needs to explain why he “doesn’t have the guts” to stand up to special interest groups for working families, Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
— CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk, Thomas Franck and Samantha Subin contributed to this report.