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Manchin Refuses to Support Reconciliation Bill If It Contains Words

How many times has this snake shed its skin?

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks during a news conference on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Building on November 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

When all is said and done, there’s nothing left to say or do. That’s how I’m feeling abut the descriptive powers of the English language as it pertains to the ongoing one-man hostage crisis known as Joe “Freaking” Manchin. How many new and novel ways are there to say it? THE MAN WANTS TO DESTROY THE BUILD BACK BETTER ACT, period, and he will keep moving the goal posts until he (and his coal-soot paymasters) gets what he wants.

How many times has this snake shed its skin? First it was the money, but then the money came down, so it became about his fear of creating an “entitlement nation.” That was a good one, coming from a senator whose West Virginia home takes in more federal aid for its citizens than any other state except New Mexico.

Manchin did active, palpable harm to thousands of his own people when he slashed his way through the Medicare, prescription drug pricing, child care and tax reforms that once sat at the heart of President Joe Biden’s social agenda. He put life on Earth as we know it in peril by stomping out the most effective climate measures contained within the legislation. Late last week, after even more concessions from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), the bill looked like it had a chance. Right on cue, Manchin moved the goal posts, again.

First, though, he let everyone dangle over the weekend off the barbed hook he offered instead of a straight answer when asked if he would support the proposed legislative framework. Progress, progress, we’re making progress, muttered the Democratic crowd, but all were nervously looking over their shoulders like swimmers in well-chummed waters, waiting for the fin and the teeth and the eyes that roll over white before the chewing starts.

On Monday morning, Manchin told CNN, “I think there needs to be clarity on where everybody stands.” By the end of the day, everyone knew where he stood, which was nowhere, again, while the bill was once more left thrashing on the deck like a boated marlin dying of fresh air in broad daylight.

“I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact it will have on our national debt, our economy and the American people,” Manchin told the assembled media on Monday afternoon. “Every elected representative needs to know what they are voting for and the impact it has, not only on their constituents, but the entire country. I’m open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward. But I’m equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.”

Fine, noble talk… and complete bullshit. Manchin knows what is and was in this legislation. The man caterwauling about its price tag was all too happy to attack and destroy all the parts of the bill that were meant to pay for the bill. There is nothing ideological about this beyond the profit ideology of his donors. If you want to kill something, you go for the heart and lungs. That is what Manchin and his pharmaceutical cohort Kyrsten Sinema have been doing all along, and that’s what Manchin did again on Monday.

The most crass part of Manchin’s little Monday homily came when he attacked the CPC for holding the bill “hostage” because they want it passed simultaneously with the infrastructure bill. All of Congress wants the infrastructure bill: It is toothlessly bipartisan, and has already passed in the Senate by a wide margin. Yet the CPC knows that passing infrastructure without the Build Back Better Act will all but doom the Act to defeat, which is what Manchin and his money people have sought from the beginning.

“Just want to make sure I have the past 24 hours right,” tweeted HuffPost senior politics reporter Kevin Robillard. “Progressives move towards doing what Joe Manchin wants, then he holds a press conference and says a bunch of stuff basically guaranteeing progressives won’t do what he wants.”

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post was even more pointed. “Ugh,” he tweeted. “Just nonstop bad faith from @Sen_JoeManchin, cloaked in phony pieties casting him as the only responsible party in town.”

For its part, the CPC continues to say all the right things about making progress and having hope. “We are taking the president’s word at the fact that he believes he can get 50 votes in the Senate,” CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal said just after Manchin’s Monday presser. Jayapal made it clear that none of Manchin’s actions, now or going forward, will affect the CPC’s demand that both bills be passed together. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to maintain that a vote on one or both will take place this week, even as she said the same thing last week, and the week before.

Everyone involved is going to have to have a little come-to-Jesus moment with themselves and this whole process regarding the machinations of Joe Manchin. The man wants everything, which means he wants nothing, as in no Build Back Better Act with its pesky $550 billion in climate rescue funds. As a funny friend noted the other day, Manchin will only support a bill that contains no words. Hilarious, right? Also God’s own truth.

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