Manchin says he is unable to support President Biden's Build Back Better plan

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill on Sept. 30, 2021.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill on Sept. 30.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP file

Updated: 9:45 a.m.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin likely doomed President Joe Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate legislation known as Build Back Better on Sunday, telling Fox News in an interview that he cannot support it.

"If I can't go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can't vote for, and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I just can’t get there," Manchin said.

When pressed whether it's a firm no, Manchin added: "This is a no on this legislation. I've tried everything I know how to do, and the president has worked diligently. He's been wonderful to work with."

Manchin has expressed reservations about the cost of the legislation in recent weeks, after previously forcing Democrats to scale back their climate goals in the bill. The president and Democratic leaders conceded a few days ago that they would miss their deadline to vote on the bill in the Senate before the holidays, but Manchin's comments make it appear impossible for the bill to ever pass.

Democrats have been trying to pass it through special budget legislation rules that would allow them to pass it through the 50-50 Senate without the Republican votes needed to overcome the usual 60-vote threshold on legislation.

But without any support from Republicans, they would need every member of the Democratic caucus on board to pass it with 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie.

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Without Manchin's support, the legislation would fail.

The White House had no immediate comment. Biden was spending the weekend in Wilmington, Delaware.

Though Manchin has been Democrats’ main obstacle all year to pushing the massive package through the narrowly divided Congress, his declaration of opposition was a stunning repudiation of Biden’s and his party’s top goal. A rejection of the legislation had been seen by many as unthinkable because of the political damage it could inflict on Democrats.

It is rare for a member of a president’s own party to administer a fatal blow to their paramount legislative initiative. Manchin’s decision called to mind the famous thumbs-down vote by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that killed President Donald Trump’s 2017 effort to repeal the health care law enacted under President Barack Obama.

Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., criticized Manchin for withdrawing his support and urged Democratic leaders to bring the bill to the floor anyway and force Manchin to oppose it.

“If he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world, “ Sanders told CNN's ”State of the Union."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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