Democrats say that Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has made clear he won’t allow a vote on the Biden administration’s spending and climate plan before Christmas. They say that they have the support of 49 senators but lack Manchin and they need a unified caucus in order to pass the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he wants to proceed with a vote before the Christmas holidays but Manchin’s support being in doubt means that it is very likely there won’t be a vote until after the New Year.
“We know we have 49 votes,” one senator said. “We have 49 people, all we need is Manchin.”
Another said “there are a couple more things to negotiate, which we could complete I think relatively quickly just to get it done, and then the question is whether Manchin is willing to go forward.”
Manchin has been widely criticized for delaying attempts by House and Senate Democrats to codify much of their economic and social policy agenda via a major spending bill.
The plan is part of efforts from the Democrats to respond to the climate crisis, invest in infrastructure and expand education, healthcare, and childcare.
It would constitute the largest broadening of the social safety net in years.
Manchin has said he is still worried about inflation and that he is not sure if the budget reconciliation bill championed by Democrats will address those issues, citing concerns he’s heard from his own constituents.
Though Manchin has complained about inflation, the Build Back Better (BBB) spending legislation has, according to the White House and Congressional Democrats, would ease inflation.
“As I have said repeatedly, when [BBB] is passed, it will be fully paid for and reduce—reduce—inflationary pressures. … This will be just what the American people need, and it will not be—will not be—inflationary,” Schumer said last month.
Manchin has decried a “hostile” work environment in Congress which he says is rife with partisanship.
“You want to know what’s wrong with the place? I go to work in a hostile working environment every day. If you’re a Democrat, and a Republican is up for election, you’re supposed to be against that person,” Manchin told CNN last month.
Manchin went on to criticize his colleagues for not reaching across the political aisle.
“In today’s divided country, in divided government that we have, in divided politics that we have, you have to work a little bit harder. How many people did you see on the floor working and talking to both sides? How many times do you see that, John? Look out. Ask them how many times they’ve had coffee with each other. Ask them how many of them know each other’s wives or children or what their pleasures are, as far as sports or recreation?” Manchin said.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.