Sen. Joe Manchin says he won't back $2 trillion social spending bill, dooming huge part of Biden's agenda: 'I can't vote for it'
- Manchin said on Sunday he cannot support the centerpiece of Biden's economic agenda.
- "This is a no on this piece of this legislation," he said.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on Sunday said he was opposed to President Joe Biden's $2 trillion social spending bill, effectively dooming the centerpiece of the president's economic agenda in its current form.
"If I can't go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia I can't vote for it," he said in a "Fox News Sunday" interview. "I've tried everything humanly possible, I can't get there. This is a no."
—The Recount (@therecount) December 19, 2021
He continued: "This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do."
Manchin later put out a statement chastising Democrats for trying to usher in transformative changes to the country.
"My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face," he said in a statement, adding he "cannot take that risk" with federal debt and inflation on the rise.
To overcome unanimous GOP opposition to the package, all 50 Senate Democrats need to coalesce behind the plan so it passes the 50-50 chamber. The conservative Democrat's opposition effectively pulls the plug on it.
The legislation would represent a major expansion of the American safety net. It would set up universal pre-K, renew monthly child tax credit payments to American families for another year, establish federal subsidies for childcare, combat the climate emergency and more. Democrats wanted to finance it with new taxes on rich Americans and large corporations currently paying little or no federal tax.
The path ahead for Democrats was not immediately clear. To assuage Manchin's concerns, they may cut the size of the bill even further, already down to about $2 billion from the original $3.5 trillion price tag they envisioned, or attempt to strike bipartisan deals on parts of it with the GOP.
Manchin has cited a range of reasons for Democrats to pull back from their ambitious package throughout the summer and fall, urging a "strategic pause" on it since August. But inflation has risen as a concern near the top of his list, alongside the increasing level of government spending.
"We've done everything that we can to help people," Manchin told Insider earlier this month, referring to $5.4 trillion in emergency federal spending that Congress authorized to combat the pandemic.
Progressives expressed outrage on Sunday at Manchin. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said that the legislation should still put up for a vote on the Senate floor next year.
"Let Mr. Manchin explain to the people of West Virginia why he doesn't have the guts to stand up to the powerful special interests," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."
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