Key U.S. Senator says he cannot support federal reconciliation bill

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a key vote for Democrats in passing a massive social spending package known as the “Build Back Better” reconciliation bill, went on FOX News Sunday to reveal he will not support the legislation, despite months of negotiations with the White House and congressional Democrats.

“I’ve done everything humanly possible,” Manchin said of his work trying to reach a compromise with the White House. “When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now… I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.”

Manchin cited ongoing inflation, national debt, “geopolitical unrest”, and the COVID-19 pandemic as factors contributing to his position on the reconciliation bill.

The U.S. Senate is currently split down the middle with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans (with Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, holding the tie-breaking vote), meaning Democrats need all 50 in their caucus, including Manchin, to support the legislation in order for it to become law.

While Manchin had long been critical of several elements in the proposal, his comments Sunday seemed to come as a surprise to many in the White House, including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who released a statement Sunday that was critical of Manchin to say the least.

“Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground,” Psaki’s statement said. “If his comments on Fox and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent 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.”

In November, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce signed onto a letter from the U.S. Chamber in opposition to the federal reconciliation bill, taking the position that the proposal would do more harm than good to reduce the challenges confronting employers of all sizes across the country.

Stay tuned to the Bottom Line for more updates.

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Manager of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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