Bernie Sanders blasts Joe Manchin over Build Back Better opposition: 'He's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia'
- Sanders on Sunday criticized Manchin for declaring his opposition to the Build Back Better Act.
- "I think he's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia," he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday sharply criticized Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia over the moderate lawmaker's declaration that he would oppose President Joe Biden's signature Build Back Better Act, the sweeping social-spending bill.
During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Sanders told host Jake Tapper that Manchin would have "a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia" over his opposition to the roughly $2 trillion bill that Democrats have been negotiating for nearly a year.
—The Recount (@therecount) December 19, 2021
"Well, I think he's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia, to tell him why he doesn't have the guts to take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs," he said. "West Virginia is one of the poorest states in this country. You got elderly people and disabled people who would like to stay at home. He's going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he doesn't want to expand Medicare to cover dental hearing and eyeglasses."
He continued: "I've been to West Virginia a number of times, and it's a great state, beautiful people, but it is a state that is struggling. And he's going to have to tell the people of West Virginia why he's rejecting what the scientists of the world are telling us that we have to act boldly and transform our energy system to protect future generations from the devastation of climate change."
A visibly angry Sanders then ripped into Manchin's support of defense budgets increases and accused him of being out of touch with his own constituents.
"Joe Manchin voted for a huge increase in military spending. Manchin voted for an infrastructure bill which added $250 billion to the deficit. The truth of the matter is that if you look at the military budget $770 billion times that by 10 years, it is four times is higher than what the build back better plan is," he said.
He continued: "Mr. Manchin says he's representing the people of West Virginia. Why don't you do a poll? Can CNN do a poll and you ask the people of West Virginia whether or not they want to lower the cost of prescription drugs. You ask them whether they want to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and eyeglasses. I told Manchin I'll pay for the damn poll in West Virginia. See how the people of West Virginia feel."
During his presidential campaign last year, Biden ran on implementing the ambitious Democratic social-spending blueprint, which would include funding for universal pre-K for six years, childcare subsidies, and an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing aids, among other items.
In November, Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a huge achievement for the party. The legislation, officially known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was a core tenet of Biden's agenda centered on repairing the nation's beleaguered transportation network, in addition to boosting access to broadband connections and putting into place a network of electric vehicle chargers.
However, the legislation initially languished in Congress for months due to intraparty disagreements about the size and scale of the Build Back Better Act, which Sanders and leading progressives earlier this year hoped would total nearly $6 trillion.
The legislation was later cut to $3.5 trillion by Senate Democrats. Then it emerged as a roughly $2 trillion framework after Democrats trimmed the package to assuage the fiscal concerns of moderates like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Progressive angst about Manchin's motives in the negotiation process never dissipated, especially from lawmakers in "The Squad" including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who for months insisted that the larger social-spending package be passed in tandem with the infrastructure package.
Both lawmakers eventually voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, along with Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — the only members of the Democratic House caucus to do so. The bipartisan bill passed as a result of 13 Republicans who crossed over to back the legislation, much to the ire of former President Donald Trump.
Pressley on "State of the Union" Sunday expressed that her lack of trust in Manchin fueled her opposition to untethering the two major infrastructure bills and resulted in her "no" vote for the bipartisan legislation.
"To be clear my lack and deficit of trust was about Senator Manchin," she told Tapper. "He has continued to move the goal post. He has never negotiated in good faith and he is obstructing the President's agenda."
She emphasized: "We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the President's agenda, to obstruct the people's agenda."
- Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis to return for 'Freaky Friday' sequel
- Electric two-wheeler sales grow by 24% in February 2024, Ola Electric leads with over 40% market share
- Gupshup launches Conversation Cloud, AI-powered tool for businesses
- Platinum Industries shares make market debut with over 33% premium
- Exicom Tele-Systems' shares debut with nearly 87% premium