WASHINGTON — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday he cannot back a $2 trillion social safety net bill, dealing a potentially fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s signature legislation.
Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” that he always has made clear he had reservations about the legislation and that now, after five-and-half months of discussions and negotiations, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.”
The West Virginia senator cited a multitude of 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.
“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,” he said. “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do.”
Last week, Biden all but acknowledged that negotiations over his sweeping domestic policy package would likely push into the new year amid Manchin’s unyielding opposition. But the president had insisted that Manchin reiterated his support for a framework that the senator, the White House and other Democrats had agreed to for the flagship bill.
On Sunday, Manchin made clear those were Biden’s words, not his own.