President Biden’s domestic agenda was dealt a serious blow Monday when conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin refused to commit to supporting the pared-down Build Back Better Act, a 10-year, $1.75 trillion program to mitigate the climate crisis while expanding social programs. Among other things, the bill would expand clean energy programs, provide universal preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds, and expand Medicaid and Medicare. Manchin’s opposition has idled a $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in August, with progressives refusing to approve the bill until they have assurances that senators will pass the larger climate and social spending package. On Monday, Senator Manchin said he needed more time to weigh the Build Back Better Act’s impact on the national debt and the U.S. economy — even as he urged House Democrats to immediately vote on the infrastructure bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin: “For the sake of the country, I urge the House to vote and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill.”