'Build Back Better' social package likely toast after Manchin nixes support

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GRAND RAPIDS — A proposed package containing many key agenda items for President Joe Biden is now likely doomed, after Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia, said Sunday he would not vote for a bill containing the package.

The package, dubbed “Build Back Better” by the Biden administration, contained a litany of social reforms, among them an extension of a tax credit for some families with children, climate change initiatives and a Medicare expansion. Manchin, for months, had expressed reluctance to support the package, citing its $2 trillion price tag, but had been in negotiations with the White House.

Machin told Bret Baier on "Fox News Sunday" that he is a no vote on the legislation.

"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 said. "This is a no."

Manchin’s vote was vital, as Democrats only hold a narrow majority in the Senate through a tie-breaker. Without his support, the package will not pass through the chamber given unanimous Republican opposition.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that Manchin had “promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground.”

“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," she said.

Psaki noted Manchin and the president were not too far apart last week, saying the senator's plan for Build Back Better "was the same size and scope as the president’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities."

She said the White House would work to get Manchin back on board.

"Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this 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 said in her statement.

President Joe Biden exits Air Force One as he arrives in Fort Campbell, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, to survey storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Joe Biden exits Air Force One as he arrives in Fort Campbell, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, to survey storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

More: Sen. Joe Manchin says he won't support Biden's Build Back Better social spending bill

Before Manchin’s comments Sunday, Biden acknowledged it was unlikely for the package to pass before the year’s end. In his first year as president, however, Biden was able to marshal the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and an infrastructure bill which received bipartisan support.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a St. Joseph Republican who voted in favor of the infrastructure bill, defended Manchin in a statement issued Sunday.

“Attempting to add trillions in new social spending that would never go away was never going to attract Republican support and Senator Manchin’s realization of such now ends this long chapter with inflation concerns near the top of the list,” Upton said.

— Contact Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo. Become a subscriber today. The USA Today Network contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Lack of Manchin support likely dooms Biden 'Build Back Better' plan

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