The Sausage Making: Even Moderates Are Pissed At Manchin

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is followed by reporters as he leaves a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna M... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 17: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is followed by reporters as he leaves a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Your intermittent briefing on negotiations over the reconciliation bill.

As Democrats reckon with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) newly aggressive opposition to the reconciliation bill, even moderates are realizing that he put them in an impossible position.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), of “nobody elected [Biden] to be F.D.R.” fame, called Manchin’s position “unacceptable.” 

“After months of negotiations, one Democratic U.S. senator has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations,” she wrote. “That is unacceptable, and we cannot act like this moment is the end.” 

The New Democrat Coalition, composed of self-described centrist House members, similarly balked at Manchin’s remarks. 

“The challenges our country faces are too big and the cost of inaction is too high to throw in the towel on Build Back Better negotiations now,” they wrote, adding in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) favorite refrain: “Failure is not an option.” 

 New Platform Plank? 

  • Manchin continues to inject Democratic campaigns with Senate disputes he has created. First, he elevated the filibuster to a litmus test for Democratic candidates. Now, Democrats are campaigning on a promise to vote for the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. 

The Way Forward 

  • Democrats are scrambling to figure out where to go next. There is some reporting that Manchin may be willing to continue negotiations. A new bill would likely only contain a few long-term programs, and would still have to fit under the $1.75 trillion ceiling. 
  • Schumer is promising, at the very least, to force everyone to go on the record with floor votes. That goes not just for reconciliation, but also voting rights. The Democratic caucus is having a virtual meeting Tuesday evening. 
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is largely done with the legislative blockade, and is urging Biden to do everything he can through executive action. She had some choice words for Manchin, who she said demonstrated his “lack of integrity.” 
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Monday that she has “confidence” that Manchin cares about the country and will come around. 

It’s The Economy, Stupid 

  • Manchin has shown little interest in the human suffering that will result in the loss of programs like the child tax credit. He reportedly told other senators he suspects that people will use that tax break to buy drugs. But he has shown immense concern about the nebulous and unspecific idea of the “economy.” There’s a good chance his eyes have been drawn to gloomy forecasts of 2022 GDP growth from major players in the economic world following his announcement.
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