On Sunday, Senator Joe Manchin announced that he would not be voting for President Joe Biden's sweeping social spending plan the Build Back Better Act, stating "I cannot take that risk."
Manchin made the announcement during an interview with Fox News Sunday.
"This is a mammoth piece of legislation. And I had my reservations from the beginning when I heard about it five and a half months ago," Manchin told Fox News Sunday interim host Bret Baier.
Manchin noted that he has been diligently working with both sides of the aisle to reach a decision, including with President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and more.
"I've done everything humanly possible. And you know, my concerns I had and I still have these concerns and where I'm at right now the inflation that I was concerned about, it's not transitory, it's real. It's harming every West Virginian," Manchin said.
The West Virginian Senator said that inflation is "making it almost difficult for" West Virginians "to continue to go to their jobs, the cost of gasoline, the cost of groceries, the cost of utility bills, all these things are hitting in every aspect of their life."
"Then you have the debt that we're carrying, $29 trillion. You have also the geopolitical unrest that we have. You have the COVID, the COVID variant. And that is wreaking havoc again, people are concerned, I've been with my family. I know everyone's concerned."
"So when you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I've always said this, Bret, if I can't go home and explain it to the people West Virginia, I can't vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there," Manchin concluded.
Manchin expanded upon his thoughts from his Fox News interview in a statement released shortly after his appearance.
"My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to drastically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face," Manchin wrote in his statement.
"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," he continued.
Manchin continued on to state that "The American people deserve transparency on the true cost of the Build Back Better Act." High ranking lawmakers, including President Biden, have assured on a multitude of occasion that the legislation is fully paid for, and would not increase taxes for those making less than $400,000 per year.
"The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined the cost is upwards of $4.5 trillion which is more than double what the bill's ardent supporters have claimed," Manchin stated. "They continue to camouflage the real cost of the intent behind this bill."
Manchin noted concerns spreading across the country regarding the newest COVID-19 variant, in addition to global concerns, that could be hindered by rising debts associated with the passing of this bill.
"As the Omicron variant spreads throughout communities across the country, we are seeing COVID-19 cases rise at rates we have not seen since the height of this pandemic," said Manchin."We are also facing increasing geopolitical uncertainty a tensions rise with both Russia and China."
"Our ability to quickly and effectively respond to these pending threats would be drastically hindered by our rising debt," Manchin continued, noting that the bill would also "risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains."
"I will never forget the warning from then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that he delivered during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during my first year in the Senate. He testified that the greatest threat facing our nation was our national debt and since that time our debt has doubled," Manchin stated.
"I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the needs of all Americans and do so in a way that does not risk our nation's independence, security and way of life," he concluded.
Following Manchin's Sunday statement against the legislation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued her own statement regarding Manchin's decision.
"Senator Manchin's comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances," Psaki began.
"Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework 'in good faith,'" she continued.
Psaki stated that Manchin had submitted an outline for a Build Back Better bill "that was the same size and scope as the President's framework, and covered many of the same priorities" on Tuesday to the White House.
"While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground," said Psaki.
"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 continued.
Psaki said that Manchin said his change of position came in response to inflation, "but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures."
"Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better," she added.
Psaki continued on to state a number of the key talking points regarding the legislation stated by the president and other supporters of the bill, including the fact that it would lower child care costs, prescription drug costs, healthcare premiums, and give tax breaks for families with children.
"If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break," said Psaki.
"Senator Manchin cited deficit concerns in his statement. But the plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run," she added.
"The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That's not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face," she continued.
Psaki stated that the White House will continue to press Manchin to reverse his new position, and "honor his prior commitments and be true to his word."
"In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need," said Psaki. "Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot."
"The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year," she concluded.
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