Manchin’s Opposition Slashes Build Back Better’s Chances

by | Dec 22, 2021 | News

Democrats face a political crisis after West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin announced during an appearance on Fox News that he won’t back his party’s signature $2 trillion social and environment bill. The Senator stated, “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do,” likely crushing Democrats’ hopes of passing the Build Back Better Act.

After five-and-a-half months of negotiations with Democrats, during which he was the bill’s greatest opponent, Manchin further suggested that he never intended to compromise to support crucial portions of the bill, preferring it die altogether.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other representatives accurately predicted his staunch opposition, but much of the Democratic party ignored the warnings; Manchin has long opposed measures to address global warming.

The Build Back Better Act was intended to lower the price of prescription drugs and provide financial assistance to families via the expanded child tax credit — measures that promised to help reduce poverty. Manchin claims to support tax reforms and prescription drug proposals, but in the end said a personal conflict with White House staff pushed him to quit the legislation. In keeping with his pattern of obfuscation, he has yet to detail why he withdrew support for the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a vote early next year so every senator “has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders demanded a vote so Manchin could explain his decision.

Machin went on to criticize Democrats for trying to convince him to support the bill, saying “they figured, surely to God we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough.”

He said his resistance to Democrats’ negotiations is thanks to being a West Virginian, even though some of the protesters he mentioned are from the state. Polling from Data for Progress also demonstrates that a majority of likely voters in his state support the bill, including 90% of West Virginia Democrats.

Now facing an uncertain future are the popular social and economic policies outlined in the Build Back Better Act. In addition to limiting prescription drug costs and implementing a more generous child tax credit, the bill allocates more than $500 billion for tax breaks and spending aimed at curbing carbon emissions, which experts consider the largest federal expenditure ever to combat climate change.

Almost all its costs would be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations. But Manchin, “a fossil-fueled sociopath,” has shut down the landmark climate legislation and deflated the improved child tax credit.

For Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop wrote that much media coverage of Manchin’s opposition has obsessed over drama and personalities, rather than the dire stakes for climate action.

“Similar dynamics apply to coverage of the social-spending provisions in the bill, many of which have been largely ignored at the top levels of the news cycle, others of which — the extension of Biden’s child tax credit, for example — are often covered, in political journalism, more as sticking points or polling issues than real money that affects real families.”

Manchin’s suppression of the social and environmental provisions in the Build Back Better Act could have severe impacts, especially as the end of expanded child tax credits worsens poverty and student loan repayments begin again in February.


Image by Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

More from The Edge

From Enforced Hijabs to Enforced Pregnancies

Seeing and Looking and Thinking Anew We — the inclusive we — need to see this newest devastating crisis of democracy in the U.S. with renewed urgency because it has too long a history. Look at what is happening to Iranian women (and Saudi, and Indian, and Afghan) and...

November Elections Spur Urgent Calls for Pro-Democracy Coverage

As the 2022 midterm elections approach in November, mainstream media have been covering the leadup to the vote with usual commitment to framing Republicans and Democrats equally, even as a subset of Republicans attack the integrity of elections to gain power. This...

The Continuing Trouble and Tragedy within ‘Death of a Salesman’

It is clear that the way people react to Arthur Miller’s 1949 play “Death of a Salesman” is as unpredictable as the play itself. Sympathies are pulled in every direction. With the play currently revived for the sixth time on Broadway, let us take a moment to think...

You Cannot Silence Us: Exiled Writers Speak At Ithaca College

On September 22, the Park Center for Independent Media hosted a discussion with dissident writers who were forced from their homelands and found sanctuary through a City of Asylum in Ithaca, Pittsburgh, or Detroit. The event, which was attended by nearly 70 Ithaca...

Upending Arthur Miller: A Clarion Call to Our Cultural Emergency

There’s so much I could say about Claire Gleitman the woman, the colleague, the director, and the Dean, as she has been invaluable to my career and my happiness in this job. Her friendship has been an unwavering goodness in my life. But tonight, it is Claire’s...

Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral: When Bravery Gets Old

Social media has been rife with criticism of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, even from those members of the public who loved her. It represents money wasted in a nation facing financial crisis, the denial of British colonialism and slavery that the royal family has never...

Southwest ‘Megadrought’: Heat and Dryness Worst in 1,200 Years

In 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress about a warming planet during a summer of unprecedented heatwaves and drought in 40 states. His historic wakeup call failed to galvanize economic systems and government to take preventive action. Now,...

PCIM Publishes Archives from the Los Angeles Vanguard

View the full Vanguard Archive here. “The Vanguard is more than a newspaper, it is an organizing tool for community groups and individuals to fight back through citizen action. FIGHT BACK will be a regular feature of such efforts.” The mission statement published in...