Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) finally put the nail in the coffin of the Biden administration’s ambitious $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending package, declaring on Sunday that he was a “no” on the legislation and “can’t vote for it.”
The centrist Democrat made the definitive announcement on Fox News, of all places. He dispatched an aide to let the White House know just half an hour before going on air, Politico later reported, but the senator "refused to take a call" from them before going on Fox News Sunday, where he was asked by anchor Bret Baier what the “state of play” was for the bill.
“Well, Bret, this is a mammoth piece of legislation and I have had my reservations from the beginning, when I heard about it five and half months ago, and I've been working diligently every day, every minute of every day,” Manchin stated, adding that he’s “done everything possible” to support the bill.
But after noting that he has “real concerns” about inflation and the rising national debt, Manchin went on to say he couldn’t support the bill and then “explain it to the people of West Virginia.”
“I can't vote for it and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” he added. “I just can't. I've tried everything possible. I can't get there.”
With Baier asked if this meant he was “done,” the West Virginia lawmaker confirmed the Build Back Better bill was dead on arrival.
“This is a no on this legislation,” Manchin flatly stated. “I have tried everything I know to do and the president has worked diligently, he's been wonderful to work with, he knows I've had concerns and the problems I've had.”
Baier also noted that the spending package had been repeatedly trimmed largely in an effort to appease Manchin, and that Biden himself recently released a statement saying that Manchin still supported the bill at the current dollar figure.
“Well, Bret, here's the thing,” the senator replied. “I tried. I really did, and the president was trying as hard as he could.”
Asked about progressive colleagues placing the blame solely on him for the bill stalling in the Senate, Manchin said they should “just vote.”
“If that's what people need to show where they are, then vote,” he said. “I've been trying to say it. How many different ways I can say it?”
In a statement released after his Fox News appearance, Manchin took a pointed swing at progressives while justifying his decision not to support the legislation.
“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,” the senator stated. “I cannot take that risk.”
Appearing on CNN, Bernie Sanders also called for a vote, saying of Manchin that “If he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world!”
In a blistering statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Manchin’s comments on Fox were "at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances." She said Manchin had personally delivered President Biden a written outline for the bill this week, of "the same size and scope as the President’s framework” and “promised to continue conversations.”
Psaki said “we will find a way to move forward next year,” and called Manchin’s declaration that he would oppose the bill “a sudden and inexplicable resevsal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”