Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.
The House and Senate have both left for the year. The Senate returns January 3rd, and the House is back January 10th.
But the big news today is that the Democrats’ reconciliation legislation, the so-called “Build Back Better” (BBB), took a fatal blow from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). In an appearance on Fox News Sunday over the weekend, Manchin announced his firm opposition to the legislation, which in a 50-50 Senate requires his vote to pass on a simple majority. Here’s an excerpt of the interview with Bret Baier:
BAIER: Senator, you are at the center of this negotiation with the president over his social spending and tax bill, a bill, the Build Back Better bill, that is not coming up in the Senate before the New Year in part largely because of your reservations. Without you, the leadership doesn’t have the votes it needs.
So, today, right now, what’s the state of play?
MANCHIN: Well, Bret, you know, this is a mammoth piece of legislation and I have had my reservations from the beginning when they heard about it a five and half months ago and I’ve been working diligently every day, every minute of every day, I’ve been working on this, meeting with — whether it’d be the president, President Biden, whether it’d be Majority Leader Schumer and his staff, whether it would be with Nancy Pelosi, all of my colleagues. I mean, from all different spectrums of the political spectrum, if you will, from the right to the left. I’ve done everything humanly possible.
And you know, my concerns I had, and I still have these concerns and where I’m at right now, the inflation that I was concerned about, it’s not transitory, it’s real, it’s harming every West Virginian. It’s making it almost difficult for them to continue, to go to their jobs, the cost of gasoline, the cost of groceries, the cost of utility bills — all of these things are hitting in every aspect of their life.
And you start looking at — then you have the debt that we’re carrying, $29 trillion, you have also the geopolitical unrest that we have. You have the COVID — the COVID variant, and that is wreaking havoc again, people are concerned. I’ve been with my family, I know everyone is concerned.
So when you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, 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.
I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.
BAIER: You’re done? This is — is this a no?
MANCHIN: This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do, and the president has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with. He knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had.
The White House responded by accusing Manchin of duplicity. And the arrows are still flying this morning. Is BBB really dead? It’s ultimately unclear. There could be some version of the legislation to which Manchin yet agrees (although all these problems would have to be resolved). But that’s a heavy lift given all the competing factions within the Democratic party.
The fun is not over yet, however. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced this morning that the Senate will return to take up “voting rights” legislation in January – that is, the Democrats’ massive election takeover legislation (for more on this follow the work of CPI’s senior fellow, Cleta Mitchell).
Since the Republican embrace of a 51-vote filibuster carve-out for the debt ceiling two weeks ago, there has been much discussion among Democrats over using the same approach to pass categories of their own legislation. Given statements from Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), however, it doesn’t appear that Democrats have the votes to go nuclear on a 51-vote carve out just yet. But that doesn’t prohibit them from trying.
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One More Thing…
All of us at CPI wish you a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year! The Compass will return in 2022. Thank you for letting us be a small part of your lives. We are grateful for you.