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Manchin Throws Cold Water on Revamped Build Back Better

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) / Getty Images
• March 28, 2022 3:00 pm

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) in an interview with local media on Monday reiterated his opposition to Democrats' budget reconciliation scheme, disputing a report that suggested he is ready for a new round of negotiations.

In an interview with radio network West Virginia MetroNews, Manchin called a report that he and his Democratic colleagues could work by the end of May on a new, slimmer version of President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" plan complete fiction. Manchin questioned the report's sourcing and said any plan to bypass typical Senate procedure for new welfare programs is out of the question.

"First of all there is no discussion, I don't know where they're getting this information from," Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews host Hoppy Kercheval. "You know me, I talk to everybody and anybody that comes up to talk to me. … I said, ‘First of all, let me make it very clear to all of you: We're not going here, down the social [spending] path with reconciliation.'"

On March 23, E&E News, a subsidiary of Politico, alleged that Manchin is "ready to engage on reconciliation," sourcing the story to "five people who included environmental advocates, lobbyists, and senior congressional staff members."

If Biden wants any of his "Build Back Better" agenda passed, Manchin said, he should work on bringing Republicans on board. The budget reconciliation process, which allows certain bills to pass with just 51 votes, was never intended for legislation that "changes the social fabric of America."

"That's why we have a Senate, that's why you can't get rid of the filibuster, and that's why it takes bipartisanship and cooperation," Manchin said.

Manchin said his primary focus remains U.S. energy independence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. While he has had conversations with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Manchin called left-wing plans to end all use of fossil fuels by 2030 unrealistic and harmful to U.S. security. Instead, he said, the Biden administration should be working on approving new permits for extracting fossil fuels such as natural gas.

"I will not vote to put the United States of America in a position … to basically end up like Europe," Manchin said. "Let's basically invest in renewables, do what we need to do there, and in new technology but also invest in infrastructure to be secure here."