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Joe Manchin Is Now Using the Anti-Abortion Hyde Amendment To Hijack Reconciliation Bill

Senator Joe Manchin is surrounded by reporters outside of the Capitol.

Purported Democrat Joe Manchin has been one of the major roadblocks standing between his fellow lawmakers and substantive, meaningful legislation. Along with fellow Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Manchin is attempting to nearly singlehandedly derail President Biden’s Build Back Better plan—a massive $3.5 trillion spending package that invests in clean energy, affordable housing, healthcare, childcare, and much more.

Speaking with press today, Joe Manchin called those things “entitlements.”

Manchin says that the very most he could support in this kind of spending package is $1.5 trillion, a figure his colleagues and plenty of others were quick to dismiss as impossibly low, as well as seemingly arbitrary.

Manchin also stated other, more specific demands, including saying the reconciliation bill is “dead on arrival” if it doesn’t include the horribly outdated and discriminatory Hyde Amendment as it relates to a Medicaid-like program featured in the bill.

The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds in paying for elective abortion care, putting yet another socioeconomic barrier between low-income women and their reproductive autonomy.

As Kylie Cheung explained it on the 43rd anniversary of the amendment:

Hyde is justified as a means to not offend the sensibilities of that small minority of Americans who oppose abortion rights, essentially according this minority with disparate power over the lives and healthcare access of women and pregnant people across the country. Its effects are sexist, racist, and deeply classist, limiting the taxpayer-funded care women and pregnant people receive, despite how we pay the same taxes as men, while also disproportionately harming the low-income women of color who comprise the majority of people who seek abortion care and also are more likely to struggle to afford it.

It’s not surprising to see Manchin defend the Hyde Amendment when most other Democrats have realized it’s past time to throw it out. It is infuriating, though, to see him think he can hijack this legislation to suit the whims of a man who has no business being in the Democratic party in the first place. As an anti-abortion, anti-social safety net politician, his values simply do not align with the party. And yet here he is, holding the party hostage with his entirely Republican demands.

Ultimately, Manchin is being driven by his own conservative anti-abortion hangups as much as he is by his loyalty to corporate lobbyists. And he is very driven by corporate lobbyists.

Not to mention whatever this is doing for his ego.

(image: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.