Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Monday that he will tee up a vote on the $2 trillion Build Back Better social spending package when Congress reconvenes after the first of next year — a day after Sen. Joe Manchin torpedoed the legislation by coming out against it.
In a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter, the Democratic leader vowed 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.”
That line was a direct jab at Manchin (D-WV) who announced his intention not to support the third and final piece of President Biden’s domestic spending agenda during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
Schumer (D-NY) described Democrats as “disappointed” at not being able to vote on the spending plan because of ongoing negotiations between Manchin and President Biden, but vowed “neither that delay, nor other recent pronouncements, will deter us from continuing to try to find a way forward.”
“We simply cannot give up,” Schumer said. “We must and we will keep fighting to deliver for working families.”
The majority leader then ticked off some of the provisions in the Build Back Better Act — including sections meant to reduce prescription drug prices, expand Medicare and the federal child care tax credit, and fund clean energy initiatives – and said they are backed by most Americans.
“These are just some of the major issues the Build Back Better Act would immediately address. We were elected to address these many needs and we will not stop fighting until we do,” Schumer said.
Democrats needed all 50 of their members on board with the legislation to ensure the Build Back Better Act would pass the evenly divided Senate without Republican support and with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
“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 host Bret Baier. “And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.”
”This is a no on this piece of legislation,” Manchin confirmed later in the interview. “I have tried everything I know to do.”
The White House released a blistering statement following the senator’s announcement condemning what the administration called a ”sudden and inexplicable reversal.”
The statement, issued by press secretary Jen Psaki, said Manchin’s comments “are at odds with his discussions this week with the president, with White House staff and with his own public utterances.”
“If his comments on Fox and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the president and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate,” Psaki said, adding the administration will “find a way to move forward next year.”
Manchin, in a statement released after his appearance on Fox News, accused his Democratic colleagues of wanting to “dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.”
“I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight,” the senator added.