A day after Senator Joe Manchin III said he would not support the Build Back Better Act, President Joe Biden’s $2.2 trillion climate, tax and spending plan, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said he was undeterred.
The news that the West Virginia Democrat would not support the legislation, means the bill does not have enough votes to pass the Senate, according to Goldman Sachs, which expects that economic growth could be weaker than anticipated next year.
“Senator Joe Manchin made a promise to President Biden to support a framework that would help lower health care costs, cap the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, lower child care costs for Americans, address the climate crisis, and give working people and poor people a shot in America,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people. He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.”
“The American people want and deserve to have their critically important daily needs addressed,” said Jayapal. “That is why all the elements of the Build Back Better legislation are overwhelmingly supported by Americans across the political spectrum. We will never stop fighting to truly build back better for the American people. Too much is at stake.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework shouldn’t have passed before the Build Back Better Act—climate & jobs package—was signed into law,” said New Jersey progressive activist Lisa McCormick, who has expressed the view that Democrats will be judged harshly by voters if they do not reverse the effects of Reaganomics—the trickle-down economic policies that produced a $30 trillion national debt and massive inequality in America—and get started on the transition to clean energy required to abate the climate crisis.
“The President of the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives and 49 members of the U.S. Senate are prepared to pass enormously consequential legislation which stands up to powerful special interests and finally deliver for the working families of our country. With almost every Democrat in the House and Senate on board, there is one member of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate who stands in the way: Senator Joe Manchin,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “In America today the very rich are becoming richer while millions of working families are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills. We now have the absurd situation in which two multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans, the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92% and the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in the last 100 years.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released an absolutely blistering statement following Manchin’s interview on Fox News, where he dropped the bomb on the unaware administration.
“Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on Fox are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” said Psaki. “Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.'”
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” said Psaki. “While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it 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. 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.”
“Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better,” said Psaki. “Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids. If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break.”
“Senator Manchin cited deficit concerns in his statement. But the plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run,” said Psaki. “The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That’s not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face.”
“Likewise, Senator Manchin’s statement about the climate provisions in Build Back Better are wrong. Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia,” said Psaki. “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.”
“In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot.
We are proud of what we have gotten done in 2021: the American Rescue Plan, the fastest decrease in unemployment in U.S. history, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, over 200 million Americans vaccinated, schools reopened, the fastest rollout of vaccines to children anywhere in the world, and historic appointments to the Federal judiciary,” said Psaki. “But 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. The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year.”