“For five and a half months, I have worked as diligently as possible meeting with President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and my colleagues on every end of the political spectrum to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations. I have made my concerns clear through public statements, op-eds and private conversations. My concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.

“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation. 

“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.

“The American people deserve transparency on the true cost of the Build Back Better Act. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined the cost is upwards of $4.5 trillion which is more than double what the bill’s ardent supporters have claimed. They continue to camouflage the real cost of the intent behind this bill.  

“As the Omicron variant spreads throughout communities across the country, we are seeing COVID-19 cases rise at rates we have not seen since the height of this pandemic. We are also facing increasing geopolitical uncertainty as tensions rise with both Russia and China. Our ability to quickly and effectively respond to these pending threats would be drastically hindered by our rising debt.

“If enacted, the bill will also risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains. The energy transition my colleagues seek is already well underway in the United States of America. In the last two years, as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and with bipartisan support, we have invested billions of dollars into clean energy technologies so we can continue to lead the world in reducing emissions through innovation. But to do so at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow will have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years. 

“I will never forget the warning from then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that he delivered during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during my first year in the Senate. He testified that the greatest threat facing our nation was our national debt and since that time our debt has doubled.

“I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the needs of all Americans and do so in a way that does not risk our nation’s independence, security and way of life.”

Joseph Manchin III (born August 24, 1947) is an American politician and businessman serving as the senior United States senator from West Virginia, a seat he has held since 2010. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 34th governor of West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and the 27th secretary of state of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005.

Manchin has called himself a "centrist, moderate conservative Democrat" and is often cited as the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.West Virginia has become one of the most heavily Republican states in the country, but Manchin has continued to see electoral success. He won the 2004 gubernatorial election by a large margin and was reelected by an even larger margin in 2008; in both years, Republican presidential candidates won West Virginia. Manchin won the 2010 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by incumbent Democrat Robert Byrd's death with 54% of the vote. He was elected to a full term in 2012 with 61% of the vote and reelected in 2018 with just under 50% of the vote, as the state had become increasingly partisan. He became the state's senior U.S. Senator when Jay Rockefeller retired in 2015.

As a member of Congress, Manchin is known for his bipartisanship in working with his Republican colleagues on issues such as abortion and gun ownership. He opposed the energy policies of President Barack Obama, including reductions and restrictions on coal mining, voted against cloture for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 (not voting on the bill itself), voted to remove federal funding for Planned Parenthood in 2015, supported President Donald Trump's immigration policies and voted to confirm most of his cabinet and judicial appointees, including Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Manchin is a prominent opponent of policy proposals including Medicare For All, abolishing the filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He receives the largest coal, oil and gas industry donations of any senator.

Joe Manchin (D-WV) is followed to his car by reporters after participating in a vote at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.IMAGE SOURCE
Image caption,
Joe Manchin said the legislation would leave the US "even more vulnerable to the threats we face"

A Democratic senator has said he will not support a major social spending plan, throwing the US president's flagship legislation into jeopardy.

"I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation," Joe Manchin told Fox News of the $1.9tn (£1.4tn) bill.

Fellow Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have spent weeks trying to secure Mr Manchin's crucial support.

All 50 Democrats are needed to pass the bill in the Senate, with opposition Republicans staunchly opposed.

The Build Back Better Act is a sweeping social spending and climate package, which is considered a key pillar of Mr Biden's agenda.

It would increase funding for government health-insurance programmes, expand tax credits for low-income families, provide government-funded universal preschool, and invest hundreds of billions of dollars in addressing climate change. It would be mostly paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

It passed the House of Representatives last month following a vote that largely fell along party lines, but was expected to face significant hurdles in the Senate.

Republicans say the legislation will fuel inflation and damage the economy.

On Sunday, the Democratic West Virginia senator said he had "worked as diligently as possible... to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations".

"My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.

"I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29tn and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight," Mr Manchin said.

The White House said Mr Manchin's comments marked a "breach of his commitments" to Mr Biden as well as his Democratic colleagues in Congress.

"We will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word," it said.

"The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year," it added.

As of 2021, Manchin is the only Democrat holding statewide office in West Virginia, as well as the only Democrat in West Virginia's congressional delegation. After the 2020 elections, he became an important swing vote in a 50–50 Democratic-controlled Senate. The Democratic Party's marginal majority in the 117th Congress has made Manchin one of its most influential members.

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