- Manchin may slam the brakes on passing Biden’s social and climate legislation for now.
- Speaking to reporters, he brought up how the federal government has spent $5.4 trillion in emergency pandemic aid.
- “We’ve done everything that we can to help people,” he told Insider.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a crucial swing vote, doesn’t sound like he’ll give the green light to President Joe Biden’s planned $2 trillion social and climate spending plan anytime soon.
Earlier in the summer, he urged a “strategic pause” on moving ahead with the sprawling bill. At the time, he cited a spike in COVID-19 infections and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as more urgent priorities for Congress to address. Now, Manchin is railing against inflation and rising prices.
Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly alarmed about the prospect of an abrupt cutoff of monthly child tax credit checks flowing to millions of families. The last payment is set to be issued on December 15. Experts say a lapse would hit kids from low-income families hard because they would be shut out from receiving aid. It would also no longer come in monthly installments.
Around 346,000 kids in West Virginia could lose some or all the federal aid, per an analysis from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
On Wednesday, Manchin sounded fed up with the concept of additional federal spending.
“We’re doing an awful lot,” the West Virginia Democrat told Insider. “We did an expansion of SNAP. We’ve done everything that we can to help people — we sent out $5.4 trillion in aid.”
He went on: “And there’s an awful lot of things we’ve done that’s been very good that will continue on into 2022.”
At Capitol Hill, Manchin pulled out a small white card that listed both bipartisan and Democratic-only achievements and argued that his party hadn’t touted them enough. They included the recent $550 billion infrastructure law and the $1.9 trillion stimulus law; the latter passed with only Democratic votes.
—Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 8, 2021
The card also said Congress had authorized $6.6 trillion in extra federal spending in the last 20 months. Most of that sum was devoted to combating the pandemic through small business aid, direct payments, federal unemployment benefits and emergency health spending.
Manchin poured cold water on passing the bill anytime soon, saying much of the bill needed to be “scrubbed” so it complies with Senate rules and large parts were still being negotiated.
That’s not deterring Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from standing by his December 25 deadline. All 50 Senate Democrats must coalesce around the legislation so it can pass over unanimous GOP opposition. Manchin’s resistance alone could therefore delay or sink the measure.
“We continue to make good progress and we’re still on track to vote on a final product before Christmas,” he said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “The sooner we can pass Build Back Better, the better off American families will be as we start the New Year.”