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Rep. Ilhan Omar has called out West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin for refusing to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill.
“We all knew that Senator Manchin couldn’t be trusted,” the Minnesota Democrat said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Velshi early Sunday, Mediaite reports. “The excuses that he just made, I think, are complete bulls–t.”
TheGrio previously reported the $2 trillion social and environment legislation includes significant funding for fixing roads, bridges, tunnels and transit systems, as well as rebuilding some airports. It also includes increased funding for HBCUs, an increased child tax credit, affordable housing, an expansion to Medicare and more.
Omar listed several of the bill’s initiatives and condemned Manchin for betraying his fellow Democratic senators.
“It is really disheartening to hear him say that he has been trying to get there for the people of West Virginia because that’s a complete lie,” Omar said. “There are just so many things that the people of West Virginia desperately need. And we know that he is not working on behalf of their interests. And I really am completely disappointed and disgusted by his reasoning.”
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will vote on Biden’s social spending bill in early 2022, despite Manchin’s stance on the issue, The Washington Post reported.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” the New York senator said in a letter to colleagues. “We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act — and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”
As reported by the Associated Press, Manchin told Fox News Sunday that he always has made clear his reservations about the bill, and that now, after five-and-half months of discussions and negotiations, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called Manchin’s statement “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position” and “a breach of his commitments” to Biden. “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,” she said.
Biden’s signature bill carries huge investments for the elderly, housing, job training and more than $500 billion for tax breaks and spending aimed at curbing climate change. Nearly all of it would be paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.
Manchin cited several factors weighing on the economy and the potential harm he saw from pushing through the “mammoth” bill, such as persistent inflation, a growing debt and the latest threat from the omicron variant, per The AP report.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this … if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” he said.
“I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t do it,” Manchin added. “This is a ‘no’ on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”
The passage of Build Back Better would have been a welcome development in the Biden agenda after the lack of progress related to voting rights and police reform issues. Missouri Rep. Cori Bush called Manchin “anti-black” over his opposition to Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending package.
“Joe Manchin’s opposition to the Build Back Better Act is anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant,” Bush said. “When we talk about transformative change, we are talking about a bill that will benefit Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. Those same communities are overwhelmingly excluded from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. We cannot leave anyone behind.”
Appearing at the U.S. Capitol with on Fox News, Manchin responded “I would just say the congresswoman doesn’t know me,” he said of Bush, according to Mediaite. “She doesn’t know me, and I’m happy to talk to her. I think maybe she’ll have a different opinion. Go home to West Virginia, and ask people. I think you’ll get a different opinion.”
This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Biba Adams, Aisha Powell, and The Associated Press.
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