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Dem Senator Manchin tanks Build Back Better and poor Bernie Sanders!

Honestly, I don't know how he's going to survive the latest tongue lashing from Gramps: Sanders recently remarked, “We’ve been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN’s State of the Union. “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.”

Sen. Joe Manchin Says He Won't Vote for ‘Build Back Better' Bill in Blow to President Biden

The decision could doom Mr. Biden’s top domestic-policy priority

By Michael C. Bender, Andrew Duehren and Lindsay Wise

Updated Dec. 19, 2021 12:33 pm ET

WASHINGTON—Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) said he would oppose his party’s roughly $2 trillion education, healthcare and climate package, a decision that likely dooms the centerpiece of President Biden’s economic agenda as currently crafted.

“This is a ‘no’ on this legislation,” Mr. Manchin said on Fox News Sunday. “I have tried everything.”

Democrats have spent months drafting and revising the package, called “Build Back Better,” to win Mr. Manchin’s support, which they need to pass the bill through the 50-50 Senate. Mr. Manchin has maintained his opposition to its design and many of its provisions, but his comments on Sunday cast the future of the legislation into fresh peril.

In a statement released following his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mr. Manchin reiterated many of the concerns he has aired publicly about the bill, including its possible impact on inflation and the debt.

Mr. Manchin, who spoke with Mr. Biden multiple times last week about the bill, said on Fox News that he couldn’t explain a “yes” vote to the people he represents in West Virginia.

“I’ve tried everything humanly possible,” Mr. Manchin said. “I can’t get there.”

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Mr. Manchin’s comments were inconsistent with his recent negotiations with Mr. Biden. Ms. Psaki said that last week Mr. Manchin had submitted to Mr. Biden an outline of provisions he could support in the legislation, in a step that Ms. Psaki said would be the basis of future negotiations.

“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,” Ms. Psaki said.

It was unclear after Mr. Manchin’s comments on Sunday if the party would move to totally overhaul the bill—and likely jettison many of its provisions—to try to accommodate Mr. Manchin’s position. It also was unclear if Mr. Manchin, who has previously indicated that he could support spending $1.75 trillion on the bill, would accept such a reworked bill.

Mr. Manchin’s position could derail Democrats’ efforts to translate their threadbare congressional majorities and control of the White House into a wide-ranging legislative package before the midterm elections, when Republicans are favored to win control of the House. The $2 trillion bill that the House passed earlier this year seeks to create a universal prekindergarten program, lower prescription drug costs and offer tax credits for reducing carbon emissions—all while raising taxes on corporations and very high earners.

At the center of Mr. Manchin’s criticisms of the legislation is Democrats’ decision to fund a host of programs on a temporary basis, a choice the party made to make progress on a series of policies while keeping the overall price tag of the bill down. Mr. Manchin has repeatedly criticized that design, calling it a budget gimmick aimed at disguising the cost of the legislation. Many Democrats have hoped to later extend the provisions in future bills.

In the Fox News interview, Mr. Manchin said Democrats should focus on funding a smaller number of programs for longer. “So if you’re going to do something and do it—pick what our prized priorities are, like most people do in their families or their businesses, and you fund them for 10 years, and you make sure they deliver the services for 10 years,” Mr. Manchin said.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said Mr. Manchin “doesn’t have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests.” He urged Democrats to bring the bill to the Senate floor and force Mr. Manchin to cast a public vote against it.

“We’ve been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN’s State of the Union. “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.”

Democrats have faced repeated setbacks on the bill all year, initially eyeing a package as large as $3.5 trillion that they slimmed over time to win the support of centrists. They abandoned a free community college proposal, a plan for a 12-week paid leave benefit and a program pushing utilities to rely on clean energy to cut the price tag. They dropped a planned increase in top tax rates opposed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.).

Republicans, who have unanimously lined up against the bill, cheered Mr. Manchin’s statements. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has spoken with Mr. Manchin about the bill’s cost and requested a budget analysis of its provisions if lawmakers make them permanent.

“The CBO analysis confirmed Sen. Manchin’s worst fears about Build Back Better. He has always stated that he will not support a bill full of gimmicks, a bill that added to the debt or a bill that made inflation worse,” Mr. Graham said in a statement.

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