Members of the far-left “Squad” of progressive lawmakers attacked Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Sunday after the moderate announced he would oppose President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar spending plan.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” as well as a subsequent statement, Manchin cited decades-high inflation, the spiking national debt, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as his reasons for objecting to the approximately $2 trillion Build Back Better Act.
“I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” host Bret Baier. “And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), raged on Twitter that Manchin’s explanation was “bulls—.”
“The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans,” she wrote. “This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”
Omar and other House progressives had stalled a vote on a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for months, calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the larger Build Back Better bill to the floor at the same time. Ultimately, the infrastructure bill was voted on first and passed the House last month with the help of 13 Republicans who voted to support it.
The lower chamber’s version of the Build Back Better plan passed without any GOP support days later. However, the bill would have had to be scaled in the Senate down due to objections by Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Senate Democratic leadership needed all 50 of their members to support the bill in the evenly divided chamber if it was to move to Biden’s desk.
In a second tweet, Omar said the reason for her dismay was “so much bigger than Manchin.
When democracies are no longer able to address their constituents’ needs and demands, authoritarians seize power. I’ve seen it time and time again,” she said. “And ours was already on life support.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) focused her frustration on Democratic leadership.
“People can be mad at Manchin all they want, but we knew he would do this months ago,” she said. “Where we need answers from are the leaders who promised a path on BBB if BIF [the infrastructure bill] passed: Biden & Dem leaders. They chose to move BIF alone instead of w/ BBB, not Manchin. So they need to fix it.
“We, as always, are here to fight for this agenda. What matters most to us is that it gets done. But we cannot just shrug our shoulders and accept this as some Charlie Brown moment,” she added. “Our entire democracy is on the line. So we need to get back in there & get this sh*t done. Period.”
“Honestly, I’m frustrated with every Democrat who agreed to tie the fate of our most vulnerable communities to the corporatist ego of one Senator,” agreed Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.). “No one should have backed out of our initial strategy that would have kept Build Back Better alive. @POTUS, you need to fix this.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a scathing statement accusing Manchin of “a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate” to keep negotiating until he and Biden found common ground.
“Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this [Sunday] morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word,” Psaki added.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to forge ahead with a vote on the spending package and “make Manchin follow through on the betrayal of his constituents instead of enjoying the attention on TV.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) agreed, accusing Manchin and Republicans who oppose the bill of showing “contempt” for their constituents.
On Monday morning, Schumer did just that, writing in a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter that “the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.
“We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act,” Schumer emphasized, “and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”