Manchin Says He Won’t Vote For Social Spending Proposal

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin declared Sunday that he cannot endorse his party’s $ 2 trillion social and environmental project, dealing a potentially lethal blow to President Joe Biden’s main domestic initiative going one year ahead. election and at a time when tight Democratic control in Congress is already at risk.

Speaking to the “Fox News Sunday” program, Manchin said that, after five and a half months of negotiations among the Democrats in which he was the main obstacle for his party to approval, “I cannot vote to go ahead with this project. Of law. I just can not. I have tried everything humanly possible ”.

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The West Virginia senator’s words seemed to open the door to continue negotiations with Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress to reform the bill. But he also said the measure would die unless his demands that the package be less expensive and lengthy are met, something that would be difficult for many Democrats to accept in a Congress divided by a very narrow margin of difference.

The initiative would provide hundreds of billions of dollars to help millions of families with children by extending a more generous child tax credit, creating a free preschool system, and boosting childcare assistance. It offers more than $ 500 billion in tax breaks and spending aimed at curbing carbon emissions, which experts consider the largest federal investment in history in combating climate change.

Other provisions would limit the price increase for prescription drugs, create benefits for people enrolled in the Medicare system to obtain hearing aids, and boost assistance to the elderly, housing and job training. Practically all of this would be paid with higher taxes to the richest and to large corporations.

In an unusually harsh response to a senator whose vote is crucial, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Manchin’s remarks “a sudden and inexplicable change in his position” and a “violation of his commitments.” facts to Biden and Democratic lawmakers. He stressed that Manchin, whose state is one of the poorest in the country, “will have to explain” why many families will have to deal with higher health and child care costs that the measure aims to address.

Psaki said in a statement that Manchin delivered a written proposal “in person” to Biden last Tuesday, which was “the same size and scope” as a framework for the initiative that Democrats backed in October, and that he agreed that he would continue the negotiations. That framework cost $ 1.85 trillion in 10 years. Authorities had not previously disclosed their meeting on Tuesday.

“We will continue to press him to see if he will change his position once more, to honor his previous commitments and keep his word,” Psaki said.

If the bill falls apart, it will surely exacerbate the bitter ideological divisions in the Democratic Party between progressives and moderates.

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Associated Press journalist Josh Boak in Wilmington, Delaware, and AP correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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