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On Build Back Better, A Battle Is Won But the War is Not Over

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris


In a seemingly run-of-the-hill Sunday talk show appearance yesterday, West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin shook the political world when he said that he would not support President Joe Biden’s signature spending plan, the so-called “Build Back Better Act.” In a 50-50 Senate, the announcement effectively means that the nearly $2 trillion bill is dead in the water, ending Democrat hopes of implementing their progressive social platform in one fell swoop. While the news was met with justifiable jubilation from Republicans and shocked outrage from Democrats, lingering questions remain about how this latest development will affect further negotiations on Capitol Hill heading into a critical midterm year for both parties.

During an appearance yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Manchin, who has been the most vocal skeptic among Democrats of the Build Back Better Act, told host Bret Baier that “I’ve always said this Bret, if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.” When Baier followed up, confirming that Manchin was indeed officially pulling his support, Manchin nodded in agreement: “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”

With Republicans unified in opposition to the bill, Democrats needed Manchin’s support to send the legislation to Biden for signature after the House passed it late last month. Democrats had already made significant cuts to the bill after opposition from Manchin and other less radical Democrats like Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema earlier this fall, but Manchin still expressed concerns about the effect of certain climate policies in the bill on West Virginia’s all-important coal industry, in addition to how the bill would worsen rising inflation and massively expand the reach of the federal government.

Manchin’s statement came as a gut-wrenching blow to a Biden administration that was already reeling from a litany of crises, many of them self-induced, that have plagued the country over the past year. With some polls showing a double-digit lead for Republicans on the generic ballot, many Democrats saw Build Back Better as a last-ditch effort to salvage their majorities in next year’s elections.

The Biden team appears to have been completely caught off-guard by the announcement. Manchin reportedly refused calls from the White House prior to his appearance on Fox and told an aide to deliver the news to President Biden instead. In response, the White House released a statement lambasting Manchin that called his statements “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the president and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”

Congressional Democrats were also apparently blindsided by the move and outraged at Manchin, particularly after House Progressives begrudgingly agreed earlier this fall to a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill based on a promise from Democratic leaders that they would be able to get Build Back Better passed. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), perhaps the biggest proponent of the bill in the Senate, demanded a vote on the legislation anyway, saying that Manchin’s statements showed he had no “guts” or “courage.”

Republicans had the exact opposite reaction, celebrating what is undoubtedly their biggest win since Biden took office. In an increasingly rare sight in today’s hyper-partisan political climate, Republicans also praised Manchin for his stance, with one House GOP member calling it a “Christmas miracle.”

However, while Republicans are right to consider yesterday’s news a massive success, the victory does not change the basic power dynamics in Washington, and conservatives would be wise to measure their optimism with a healthy dose of caution. This was, after all, just a TV interview. Manchin may be playing to extract some large concession, and while his statement certainly seemed firm, the history of negotiations over this bill suggests that he could yet change his position again.

Democrats are also still in the majority, and they still have the reconciliation process as a means to bypass the filibuster on a spending package. Notably, Manchin said that he could not support “this” legislation – leaving open the possibility that he could be amenable to some provisions in the bill repackaged in another proposal.

Some commentators have, for instance, floated the possibility that Democrats could use reconciliation to extend Child Tax Credits implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic for up to ten years, a proposal that would cost upwards of $1.6 trillion. Although Republicans generally support Child Tax Credits as a way to aid families, Democrats are in favor of removing key work requirements for recipients that Republicans say would disincentivize employment and increase the burden on taxpayers when the country can least afford it.

Regardless of the specifics, based on the current extreme ideological climate within the Democratic Party, it’s unlikely that any spending package will be drastically more moderate than the Build Back Better Act—and least by any historical standard. The danger is that now that Manchin has earned some goodwill with his constituents (West Virginia went for Donald Trump by nearly 40 points in 2020) by opposing a controversial bill, he may feel comfortable voting for a similarly radical package that isn’t as politically charged.

Republicans should also not forget that while they may have some warm feelings for Joe Manchin at the moment, Manchin has nonetheless been a reliable vote for the rest of Joe Biden’s progressive agenda, a trend that is likely to continue. Manchin supported the American Rescue Plan that has directly contributed to the spiraling inflation about which he now claims to be worried. He agreed to raise the debt ceiling in a seeming contradiction with his professed concerns about the national debt, and he voted to confirm dozens of radical activist judges determined to legislate from the bench and turn the judiciary into a chief defender of woke liberalism. And these are just a few progressive priorities that Manchin effectively greenlit in a 50-50 Senate. While his support for these measures didn’t make as much news, they are still part of a broader left-wing effort to “remake” America, and Manchin and every Democrat who voted to support that agenda should be held accountable.

In short, yesterday was a huge victory for conservatives. The Republican messaging effort was apparently successful at communicating to the American people how dangerous the Build Back Better Act was, Congressional Republicans remained unified, and one all-important Democrat correctly judged that it was in the best interest of his state to oppose the bill. But there are still more battles to come, and Democrats are likely to only ramp up the pressure on Manchin to pass extremist legislation as their chances of retaining a majority become slimmer. Stopping Build Back Better should be an energizing moment for conservatives to continue their efforts, holding the line until a new wave of candidates has the chance to take back control of Congress in just 11 short months. 

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9 months ago

Hey Joe Manchin……c’mon over to our side. A smart man like you deserves better and it is unbelievable that you would go along with anything that the commie Dems desire to do to the USA. They are ruining our wonderful country.

Bill on the Hill
9 months ago

Both Manchin & Senator Kyrsten Sinema have done the correct thing in not voting in favor of the extremely dangerous BBB bill…It indicates to me they are at the least listening to their constituents for the moment. I also realize they are both liberal Dems that do support much of what is in the bill, in other words, they could easily turn on a dime & should be watched very closely. Republicans shouldn’t be shouting victory here but they do need to rein in the ( 19 ) RINO’s in their midst…
This war is not close to over, sadly enough…
Merry Christmas to one and all…
Bill… :~)

9 months ago

Reap what you sow. Touch sh*t, Biden. Your BBB doesn’t go in coal country.

THX 1138
9 months ago

???????? Build Back Bolsheviks is finally dead!

THX 1138
9 months ago

What did the Left actually expect when they literally followed Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema into the Ladies Room and I think harassed W. Virginia Senator Joe Manchin into a parking lot was going to happen?

9 months ago

Manchin is just waiting for the right offer $$$$$$$$$$

Dan W.
9 months ago
Reply to  Momcat

Go to the head of the class.

Ertis Crumpler
9 months ago
Reply to  Momcat

Praise God for a right thinking Democrat. And thank you senator Manchin for the manhood to stand up for what is right, again thank you.

9 months ago

My question is “Why is he the only Democrat that really represents his constituants?”

Bob Perkins
9 months ago
Reply to  Felix
  1. Apparently because he is “the only one” with any common sense!!
Dan W.
9 months ago

A whole lot of whistling past the graveyard in the previous comments.

Manchin needs to extract a significant concession from the current bill for the coal industry, then he will vote “Yes”. Wait and see.

THX 1138
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan W.

Manchin and Sinema’s 800 lbs gorilla in the room is that AOC, Sanders, Pelosi and the rest of the malcontent Marxists of their wretched Party, all detest the Senators from AZ and WVA. That said, it’s doubtful any deals would be created for those two since they were instrumental in halting Biden’s Build Back Bolsheviks nonsense.

J. Farley
9 months ago

Here is my, thank you to Senator Joe Manchin for standing up to the left lies about Bidens BBB, or Build Back Bu!!sh!t, and here is my apology for saying that you would cave to the lefts when they sweetened the pot like the Cornhusker kickback or the Louisiana purchase, I commend you for your courage and standing up for the American people.
If you, Senator Manchin were just a little stronger on the 2nd Amendment, I would swear you were a Republican, remember Sir it’s a fine line between getting votes and losing them.

Joanne 4 justice.
9 months ago

Manchin and Trump are my heroes ! TRUE GRIT-, AND TRUE AMERICANS!..

9 months ago

Thank the people of West Virginia for electing a democrat that stands more for what is good for America than for the democrat party especially the far left. It took courage to stand against them and do the right thing. The last thing this country needs is more needless debt.

Philip Hammersley
9 months ago

WE’ll have to take one victory at a time until we can retake the House and Senate.

Sarah Spvey
9 months ago

Build back better should read as Bungling Biden Bulls it as AMAC is known for truth. Sarah Spivey

9 months ago

Thank you, Joe Manchin for being a reasonable person. Please do not change your party affiliation, because for the country to work well, the Democrats need people like you.

Joanna Wehrman
9 months ago
Reply to  susabella

Dear Joe Manchin, We are so proud of you for standing up for we, the people. You are showing the world that you care about the future of this country! May God help you to be strong, courageous and vote for what is just, right, and for the good of our future! May God bless and keep you!

Joanne 4 justice.
9 months ago
Reply to  Joanna Wehrman

God bless Joe Manchin for standing up for the people , the -♡♡♡♡♡♡ of
America ! …

. .

Bob Perkins
9 months ago
Reply to  Joanna Wehrman

Senator Manchin is a true “man’s man!” Quite unlike all those other dimwitted Senator’s that stupidly and blindly vote with the Soros/Obama deep socialistic crowd!!

9 months ago

I’ll wager that Manchin is going to run for President in 2024. Any takers?

Dan W.
9 months ago
Reply to  George

For which party ?

9 months ago

There was nothing sudden about Manchin’s decision…another Biden lie. Maybe if his cronies in the MSM reported fact and not fiction, he wouldn’t have been surprised!

Larry W.
9 months ago

Senator Manchin is dong what is right for his state of West Virginia. Good for him. That’s what he was elected for.
The other Dems are looking out for their party agenda in spite of it’s harm for the citizens.

9 months ago

Remember…the Democrats ALWAYS have a plan. They will get what they want somehow. Child Tax Requirements without any work requirements will add greatly to inflation. If they try to get free child care through also, please note that if you take your child to a child care facility provided for by a religious institution, you get nothing from the government. They will not pay for any child care in a religous child care center under the bill. Part of their hate of religion.

Scotty mom
9 months ago

Thank you Joe Manchin for seeing through this socialistic plan. God keep you strong in your fight for the American people

R.J. from Arizona
9 months ago

Politics aside, I have a lot of respect for Manchin. Here is 1 guy who has a spine and stood up for what he believes. That is refreshing for a politician especially when you are going against your party
He is going to suffer a lot of grief from the socialist party, but my hat is off to him and I am not a democrat.

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