Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said Sunday that he will vote against President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act despite months of negotiations with Democratic leadership.
The moderate senator told host Brett Baier on “Fox News Sunday” that he had been engaged in talks with the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) but that they failed to reach an agreement.
“I’ve done everything humanly possible,” Manchin said of negotiations before noting that inflation, the national debt, “geopolitical unrest” and the COVID-19 pandemic was too much for him to vote in the bill’s favor.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now … I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” he said, pointing out that, if he cannot explain to his constituents his rationale behind voting for a bill, then he cannot vote for it.
Asked by Baier to confirm that he is a “no” vote on the bill, Manchin said, “This is a no on this legislation.”
And while the senator acknowledged that there were portions of the bill that he supported, he emphasized that the legislation was just too expensive.
“There’s a lot of good, but that bill is a mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin said, adding that the spending package is being pushed through budget reconciliation instead of being voted on like a regular bill.
Manchin said that Congress should prioritize mitigating the omicron variant of COVID-19 and addressing inflation that has “harmed a lot of Americans” instead of the social spending bill.
“Inflation is real, it’s not going away any time soon,” he said.
Manchin had previously proposed a $1.7 trillion price tag for the bill. However, he said his fellow Democrats failed to make the necessary compromises. The moderate Democrat also pointed out that both he and Biden made strong efforts to come to an agreement but, in the end, were unable to do so.
“What we need to do is get our financial house in order, but be able to pay for what we do and do what we pay for,” Manchin said.
The senator said he took issue with Democratic colleagues setting early expiration dates for popular items in the bill such as the enhanced child tax credit to keep the overall cost of the bill down, which he argued would have hidden the true cost of the bill.
“Everyone still has the aspirational things they want to do,” Manchin said. “They say, ‘Can we still make this fit? We’ll just cut it down to two years versus 10 years, we’ll cut this one to four years versus 10 years or one year versus 10 years.'”
“That’s not being genuine as far as I’m concerned with my constituents in West Virginia,” he continued, highlighting a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the bill showed that the legislation would cost more than $4.5 trillion over the next 10 years if each its provisions are renewed.
This comes as Manchin’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate expected negotiations between the West Virginia senator and Biden to continue this week. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told The Hill on Friday that he believed Manchin could be convinced to support the bill.
And Biden said in a statement last week that Manchin had “reiterated his support” for a $1.75 trillion cost, saying “we will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead.”
But Manchin told reporters late last week that he did not hold the same optimism that the president had.