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Sen. Manchin says he cannot vote for the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill

By Adam Schrader
Sen. Manchin says he cannot vote for the $2 trillion Build Back Better bill
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, talks to reporters after a press conference by Democratic leadership at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 14. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Sen. Joe Manchin revealed Sunday that he would not vote for the $2 trillion social and climate spending bill known as Build Back Better.

Manchin told Fox News Sunday that he had reached the decision to break from his fellow Democrats after trying to reach compromises and speaking with top party members including president Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

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"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."

Manchin said he could not support the bill because he would not be able to explain supporting it to voters in West Virginia while citing factors including inflation worries, the COVID-19 pandemic and "geopolitical unrest."

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His announcement deals a potential death blow to Biden's hopes for the passage of the spending bill in the evenly divided Senate after months of negotiations between Manchin and his colleagues. All 50 Democratic/independent senators, including Arizona's Kyrsten Sinena, who has not approved the legislation, are needed to pass the bill with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaker.

The bill had passed in the House in November by a vote of 220-213 with unanimous disapproval from Republicans and just one Democratic vote against its passage.

Sen. Bernie Sanders went on CNN after Manchin's announcement and said he hopes the Senate will force Manchin to vote on the bill while noting that the bill has "no Republican support."

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"I hope that we will bring a strong bill to the floor of the Senate as soon as we can and let Mr. Manchin explain to the people of West Virginia why he doesn't have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests," Sanders said. "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."

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki chided Manchin for his apparent "reversal" in an official statement posted to the White House website.

"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 said.

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Psaki said that Manchin's comments were "at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances" and that the senator had "committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced."

She said that Manchin visited the White House on Tuesday to submit a written outline for the social spending bill "to the President, in person, directly" which the Biden administration believed "could lead to a compromise acceptable to all."

"Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground," Psaki said. "If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent 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."

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In her statement, Psaki also rebuffed some of Manchin's concerns about the spending bill including its effects on inflation, noting that "many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better."

"We will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care -- and to combat climate change," Psaki said. "The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year."

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