Manchin Says No to Biden Agenda, Killing Momentum for Bill
(Bloomberg) -- Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday he won’t support the $2 trillion tax-and-spending plan that’s the heart of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, effectively killing Democrats’ plans to finish work on the legislation early next year.
“I can’t get there,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The West Virginia Democrat, who had been negotiating with Biden through last week, informed the White House and Democratic congressional leaders earlier Sunday that he was a firm no on the legislation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
His decision caught White House officials by surprise after he had given Biden just days ago an outline of a $1.8 trillion plan he could support, according to another person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Manchin was a crucial vote for the package in the 50-50 Senate, and getting his support was one of the last remaining hurdles for the party in negotiations over the bill.
Manchin said that his concerns about rising inflation and the $29 trillion national debt led to his decision. He said that the House bill is not honest because it creates many benefits that expire rather than creating a few for 10 years that are fully paid for.
“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a no on this legislation.”
Last week, Manchin made clear to his colleagues that if the expanded child tax credit were to be continued it would have to be for 10 years, a cost of $1.4 trillion which would leave little room for other priorities under the $1.75 trillion topline Manchin has previously endorsed.
The challenge for the White House and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be determining whether Manchin’s announcement is a hard nosed negotiating tactic to make deep changes to the bill or is truly the end of the line.
Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders said on CNN “State of the Union” that Democrats should put the bill in the floor in January for a vote and dare Manchin to vote against it.
“If he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of America and West Virginia, let him vote no in front of the whole world,” Sanders said.
Representatives of Schumer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.