“What Build Back Better bill?” he said on Tuesday when reporters asked about him about the legislation. “I don’t know what you guys are talking about.”
“No, no, no, no,” Manchin added when CNN’s Manu Raju asked if he’d had any talks about the bill since December. “It’s dead.”
The cycle played out in December when Manchin told Fox News that he “cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” despite ongoing negotiations with the president. The White House described Manchin’s “reversal” as “at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.”
His comments on Tuesday come days after the Congressional Progressive Caucus urged Senate Democrats to pass a carved-up version of Build Back Better by the end of February. “There is agreement among Senate Democrats on significant parts of this bill: climate action, the care economy, taking on Big Pharma’s price gouging, and lowering health care costs,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) wrote ina statement. “There is agreement on the need to reduce rising costs facing ordinary Americans — and that is exactly what Build Back Better does.”
Rolling Stone had reported days earlier on Biden and Democrats’ efforts to split the bill into smaller pieces that Manchin would find more palatable. “You can’t deny reality,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), one of the Senate’s most progressive members. “Make the progress that you can and push as hard as you can to build support for the rest.”
The Senate’s most progressive member, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) bashed Manchin on Tuesday after he once against nixed the idea of passing Build Back Better legislation. “We cannot allow that to die,” Sanders said. “And if Mr. Manchin chooses to side with corporate America in this issue, that’s his business.”
It very much is his business, as Manchin has proved time and time again that his allegiance lies with the corporate interests stuffing his coffers rather than with his own party. Financial disclosures released earlier this week reveal that in 2021 Manchin set a personal fundraising record for a non-election year, hauling in north of $4.8 million, with nearly $1.6 million of that coming in the year’s fourth quarter as he publicly bucked Biden’s drive to pass Build Back Better. A sizable portion of Manchin’s fundraising has come from big-money Trump donors. The same is true of fellow obstructionist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s similarly large fourth-quarter haul.
“I don’t see leadership any place in this country. Thank God for Joe Manchin.” Republican billionaire Ken Langone told CNBC in November. “I’m going to have one of the biggest fundraisers I’ve ever had for him. He’s special. He’s precious. He’s a great American.”