Republicans applaud Joe Manchin for sinking Biden's big social and climate bill

Republicans applaud Joe Manchin for sinking Biden's big social and climate bill
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
  • Republicans on Sunday were elated at the potential demise of the Build Back Better Act.
  • With Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to the bill, President Biden's key domestic agenda is seriously imperiled.

When Democrats took back the White House in January, along with narrowly regaining the Senate and maintaining control of the House, the party faithful anticipated passing a slew of ambitious legislation with former President Donald Trump out of the picture and conservatives unable to control the agenda.

However, the party's narrow congressional majorities require near-unanimous buy-in from lawmakers in the House and the votes of all 50 Senators in the upper chamber — making any defections on substantive legislation a death blow.

When Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his opposition to the Build Back Better Act on Sunday — much to the frustration of progressives who had long viewed him with suspicion — Republicans overwhelmingly cheered the potentially fatal blow to President Joe Biden's signature domestic agenda item.

While 19 Senate Republicans and 13 House Republicans crossed over to support the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill — which was focused on roads, bridges, and highways — they drew the line in the sand at the roughly $2 trillion Democratic social-spending blueprint, which was crafted to include funding for universal pre-K for six years, childcare subsidies, and an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing aids, among other items.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has maintained that Democrats underestimated the true cost of the social-spending package, praised the Mountain State lawmaker's position.


"I very much appreciate Senator Manchin's decision not to support Build Back Better, which stems from his understanding of the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill," Graham tweeted shortly after Manchin's announcement on Sunday. "I'm also appreciative of CBO's response to my and Congressman Smith's request to score the bill without sunsets — which are in fact budget gimmicks."

He continued: "The CBO analysis confirmed Senator Manchin's worst fears about Build Back Better. He has always stated that he will not support a bill full of gimmicks, a bill that added to the debt or a bill that made inflation worse."

An updated analysis released earlier this month from the Congressional Budget Office scored the overall cost of the social-spending bill if its education, childcare, and climate provisions were made permanent.

Democrats and the White House criticized it since it didn't take into account future tax increases they would seek to fund the programs.

"The Republicans are so desperate to justify their opposition to the popular, much-needed provisions in the Build Back Better Act that they've resorted to requesting fake scores based on mistruths," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement at the time.


Other Republicans on Sunday piled on to the news of the bill's potential demise.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska in a Sunday statement slammed the bill as "nakedly partisan."

"President Biden's mega-spending bill is dead and Joe Manchin put the nail in the coffin," he said. "With a divided country, a 50-50 Senate, and blowout inflation, the American people don't want to upend this country with nakedly partisan legislation."

And Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa tweeted that Manchin helping untether the bipartisan infrastructure bill from the larger spending bill was the right course of action to take.

"Further proving separating partisan BBB&bipartisan infrastructure into 2bills was right thing Needed infrastructure investment secured in bipart way w/out Dems social spending passing," he wrote.