Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has announced that he will not support President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better Act, a proposed $2.2 trillion bill that would expand the social safety net, climate change and tax programs. Manchin’s vote was necessary to carry the bill through the divided Senate, and without it, progressive legislators are back to the drawing board.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” he said on Fox News Sunday, in a likely death blow to Democrats’ hopes of passing the bill in its current iteration.

He added in a statement shortly afterward, “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.”

Manchin, a centrist, has previously voiced concern over the high budget of the bill. However, he had pledged to work toward a compromise with legislators. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has criticized Manchin’s termination of support as reneging on his promise.


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“If his comments on Fox and written statement indicate an end to that effort,” Psaki said, “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.”

Biden hailed his proposed bill as a revolutionary, New Deal-esque legislation. It would advance a great deal of progressive initiatives, from providing subsidies for childcare, to moving the nation from fossil fuels toward clean energy, to imposing price controls for prescription medication, to funding the construction of public housing. Without the Build Back Better Act, these initiatives are stymied.

“After months of negotiations, one Democratic U.S. senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia). “That is unacceptable, and we cannot act like this moment is the end. Children, families and the future of our planet are counting on us.”

Not only may these initiatives fail without the Build Back Better Act, but Biden’s reputation as an effectual dealmaker will also be damaged. Democratic legislators may also suffer in the midterm election, especially as Republicans are expected to reclaim majority of the House next year.

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