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Emperor Joe Manchin Betrays Democrats, Kills Build Back Better Bill

Merry Christmas, no one!

joe manchin

In what is perhaps the least surprising but still gutting news, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin appeared on Fox News to say he wouldn’t support the Build Back Better bill. “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. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” Manchin told Bret Baier on Fox News Sunday. “This is a no.”

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This comes after months of bad faith negotiating, where democrats slashed desperately needed aspects of the bill (including paid family leave) according to his whims. It also comes after congress passed the massive infrastructure bill, uncoupling it from BBB and losing any leverage progressives had to pass BBB.

This apparently comes as a shock to the White House, which was still negotiating details of the bill with Manchin. White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a statement saying, “Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” adding “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. 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 honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.”

The Build Back Better Bill is a widely popular bill that would invest billions in clean energy, universal pre-k, childcare, expanded Medicare, lower prescription drug prices, and a host of other desperately needed action items. But thanks to corporate interests and a democratic system that gives one shitheel from West Virginia the same power as the president, Manchin has singlehandedly bludgeoned the entire democratic agenda.

It’s a deeply depressing outcome that is only made worse by another winter beset by a Covid surge, and little to no government response beyond “whelp, it’s time to pay those student loans again.” But who could have predicted such an obvious outcome? Oh right, progressive dems.

If democrats head into 2022 with no BBB and no voting rights legislation, it’s going to be a rough election year. But what recourse is there for a system that lines the pockets of our representatives with little to no oversight? It’s time to accept the fact that America is an oligarchy dressed up as a democracy.

And all the democratic party is bringing to the table is “vote more of us in!”, amessage that is as galling as it is true. The fact is, our majority in the senate is a majority in name only. Without more democratic senators to depower Manchin, without holding onto the House, we will get less done than ever.

What comes next? Whatever Emperor Manchin decrees, I suppose. What a bitter, heartbreaking end to a mess of a year.

(via CNN, image: Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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