President Joe Biden's ambitious Build Back Better bill would cost $2 trillion over 10 years while accelerating the fight against the climate crisis, prolonging the child tax credit, and broadening access to medicare.
Unlike the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which as the name implies was passed into law on a bipartisan basis, Democrats intended to pass Build Back Better through the reconciliation process, allowing them to bypass a Republican filibuster. In order for that to work in an evenly divided Senate, every Democrat had to be on board. This put the spotlight on two of the Senate's most conservative Democrats: Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
After months of negotiations with the White House and shortly after the Senate recessed for the remainder of 2020, Manchin announced in a Fox News interview that he would not support Build Back Better.
Manchin told Fox's Bret Baier:
"I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there."
While some took his comments as the death knell for a key part of the Biden administration's agenda, the White House expressed hope that Manchin would remain "true to his word" and depart again from his "sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position."
Manchin cited fiscal concerns with an emphasis on inflation as the reason for his opposition, but according to predictions from investment banking empire Goldman Sachs, Manchin's opposition will almost certainly reap fiscal consequences as well.
The firm told its clients that it no longer had faith in Build Back Better's passage into law, and further went on to claim in a research report:
"A failure to pass BBB has negative growth implications[.]"
Its economists subsequently lowered their predictions for the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from three percent to two percent.
Manchin's critics mocked him with praise.
Social media users continue to fume at the West Virginia Senator.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to hold a floor vote for Build Back Better after the holiday recess to force Manchin to put his opposition on the record.