Bye-Bye Build Back Better? Dem Holdout Joe Manchin Says Won't Vote for Bill

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteSen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrives at the chamber for a procedural vote to advance the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrives at the chamber for a procedural vote to advance the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.12.2021
The self-described moderate conservative West Virginia Democrat has spent weeks negotiating with Joe Biden and sparring with his fellow Democrats over the president's signature $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill. His vote is critical in a Senate split straight down the middle 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats.
Senator Joe Manchin has apparently given up on President Biden's Build Back Better Act legislation, saying he "just can't" vote for the bill.

"...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, speaking to Fox News Sunday. "This is a no on this legistlation. I have tried everything I know to do."

"And you know my concerns I had, and I still have these concerns, and where I'm at right now - the inflation that I was concerned about, it's not transitory, it's real, it's harming every West Virginian, it's making [it] difficult for them to continue to go to their jobs, the cost of gasoline, the cost of groceries, the cost of utility bills, all of these things are hitting, and every aspect of their life. And you start looking and then you have a debt that we're carrying, $29 trillion, and you have also the geopolitical unrest that we have," the senator added.
A shopper goes through a Walmart store ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 27, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.11.2021
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Praising Biden as someone who's been "wonderful to work with" in negotiations on the spending package, Manchin suggested that the government should focus on other things at the moment.
"He knows I've had concerns and the problems I've had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards [is] the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it's affecting our lives again," the senator suggested.
US and global health officials have sounded the alarm about Omicron, a new Covid strain that the doctor who discovered said was "extremely mild" compared to other variants, and most of whose patients have exhibited little more than cold symptoms, such as scratchy cough, fatigue and muscle pain. The strain has nevertheless caused nations around the world to implement new restrictions on freedom of movement and other limitations.
Manchin later produced a written statement echoing the concerns he outlined in the Fox News interview.

'Sudden and Inexcusable Reversal'

In her own statement Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that Manchin's comments about BBB were "at odds with his discussions this week with the president, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances."

"If his comments on Fox and written statement indicate an end to [the negotiating] 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," Psaki indicated. The spokeswoman pointed to a written outline said to have been submitted to the White House by Manchin on Tuesday of a BBB bill which the senator ostensibly agreed to support.

Psaki stressed that the administration would "continue to press" Manchin "to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honour his prior commitments and be true to his word."
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announces the Biden-Harris Administration’s Electric Vehicle Charging Action Plan during a visit to Prince George's County Brandywine Maintenance Facility in Brandywine, Maryland, U.S., December 13, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.12.2021
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Colleagues Furious at DINO Dem

Manchin's kingmaker status in a Senate split 50/50 between Republicans on one side and Democrats and independents who caucus with them on the other has left many of the senator's colleagues flustered over his intransigence on Build Back Better.
This week, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono said that the split "sucks," while Senator Richard Durbin expressed annoyance at Manchin's inflated sense of self-importance amid the deadlock. "Joe Manchin has been camped out in the Lincoln bedroom and has his own parking space at the White House, he's been there so often," Durbin complained.
Some Democrats have called Manchin a 'Democrat In Name Only', or DINO, over his tendency to vote against his own party on key bills.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left, walks with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., after attending a Democratic policy luncheon, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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At the beginning of the week, Democratic House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised a vote on the $1.75 trillion spending package, but acknowledged Friday that the sweeping bill would not be passed this year, with negotiations between Biden and Manchin "to continue" in the new year.
Friday was the Senate's last day in session ahead of the holiday break.
Senate Republicans made no effort to hide their delight over the deadlock, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying Thursday that lawmakers were "in a good mood about going home" with the bill blocked.
Manchin's resistance to Build Back Better centers around its inclusion of the expanded child tax credit approved in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package passed in March. The president wants to extend the credit for one year within Build Back Better, but Manchin wants a full ten year extension, with the estimated cost of that proposal amounting to $1.5 trillion - nearly matching the $1.75 trillion limit he set out for the entire bill. Along with the tax credit, BBB proposes over $500 billion in spending for clean energy and climate change, and hundreds of billions more for childcare and preschools, home care and affordable housing assistance, and an expansion of Medicare.
Manchin and Republicans have resisted major new spending on top of the estimated $8 trillion already doled out over the past two years in the form of Covid relief, citing inflation fears and the US debt. Manchin and the GOP have expressed no such concerns when it comes to defence spending, however, handily approving a $740 billion Pentagon budget for 2022 this week.
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