Washington : US Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said that he will not vote for President Joe Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate bill known as the Build Back Better Act, delivering a major blow to the White House.
“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t,” Xinhua news agency quoted Manchin, a key moderate Democratic senator from West Virginia, as saying on Fox News on Sunday.
“This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do,” Manchin said, citing concerns about the surging inflation and the $29 trillion national debt.
“We have inflation that really harm a lot of Americans and especially those who are most needy and having a hard time struggling right now,” he said.
The US consumer price index rose 6.8 per cent in November from a year earlier, the fastest annual pace in almost 40 years, according to the Labour Department.
Progressive and moderate Democrats have disagreed publicly on the size and scope of the social spending package for months, although House Democrats were able to pass its version of the bill last month.
Passage of the bill in the Senate will require unanimous support from the Democratic caucus, but Manchin has yet to give his full public support.
Manchin acknowledged that there were aspects of the bill he was in favour of, but it was just too hefty for him to justify voting for it, according to the Fox News.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday that Manchin’s latest comments are “at odds with” his discussions this week with the President, White House staff and his own public utterances.
“Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honour his prior commitments and be true to his word,” Psaki said in a statement.
“We will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care — and to combat climate change. The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year,” she added.