US President Joe Biden’s $1 billion climate and social security plan is in jeopardy. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday that he cannot support the massive package. Thus, Biden does not have enough votes to get his masterpiece out through the Senate.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that he will continue his efforts to get the package through the Senate in an amended form.
The House passed the bill in November and includes plenty of money to expand the social safety net, including cheap medicines, tax cuts and childcare. A large part of the money is also allocated to combating global warming. The so-called Build Back Better Plan is also called Biden’s version of the New Deal, and is analogous to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s recovery plan to pull the United States out of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Manchin told Fox News he “tried everything” to support the proposal, but eventually found the cost too prohibitive. “My fellow Democrats in Washington are committed to fundamentally transforming our society in a way that makes our country more vulnerable to the threats we face,” the senator wrote in a statement on his website. “I can’t take that risk with a $2,900 billion national debt and real and harmful inflation, as Americans note at the gas station, in their supermarkets and their utility bills.”
The White House pulled all stops in recent weeks to beat Manchin. Biden even invited him to his home in Delaware for a breakfast meeting. The White House will need the votes of all 50 Democratic senators for the plan, as all 50 Republican senators will vote against it. In the event of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris could give a casting vote.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded with unprecedented ferocity to Manchin’s performance. She accused the senator in many words of treason. According to her, he broke his words when he suddenly turned drastically against the pack.
Left Democrats, like New York Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in particular, are frustrated that Manchin can single-handedly sabotage such important legislation from Biden. “The idea that you can just appear on Fox News and start legislation on TV and threaten to vote ‘No’ is unacceptable,” she said. According to her, Biden should be tougher and say: you are on our side or not, but either way, the train is already moving.
It remains unclear whether the White House will try to include Manchin. Obviously, the senator will want to cut a significant amount of the proposed $1,700 billion before backing it.
The president does not have many opportunities to pressure him. Manchin has a lot of support in West Virginia, while Biden did very poorly in the election there. The White House should also be careful that a conservative Democrat does not veer from Republicans. Then Biden will lose the slim majority in the Senate (thanks to Kamala Harris).
If Biden fails to convince Manchin, Chuck Schumer may split the bill into smaller parts and solicit support from a number of Republicans for the different parts. “We will vote on an amended version of the Rebuilding Better bill passed by the House of Representatives, and we will vote until we achieve something,” he affirmed.
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