Progressives berated Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) for willfully ignoring the disastrous effects of the climate crisis on the U.S. after he urged Democrats to “hit the pause button” on the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation package and argued for “a strategic pause” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday.
“By placing a strategic pause on this budgetary proposal, by significantly reducing the size of any possible reconciliation bill to only what America can afford and needs to spend, we can and will build a better and stronger nation for all our families,” Manchin wrote.
“If only you could just ‘hit the pause button’ on our climate crisis,” tweeted Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) in response.
“I wish that I could hit your mute button but here we are,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts).
“[M]aybe we hit the ‘cancel’ button on this so-called ‘bipartisan’ charade of an Exxon lobbyist drafted infrastructure bill unless we actually pass a law that helps people’s lives with healthcare expansion, childcare, climate action, etc,” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) on Twitter.
— aída chávez (@aidachavez) September 2, 2021
In the WSJ op-ed, Manchin wrote that the federal government shouldn’t be spending $3.5 trillion because a smaller bill, containing a wide slate of social and climate proposals, would actually help the public more.
The West Virginia senator also ignored the fact that Democratic leadership has promised that the bill will be fully paid for. He claimed, instead, that Democrats are ignoring the national debt and that it’s irresponsible for the government to spend more than it has on the stimulus bills — the bills that kept middle- and lower-class families afloat during an unprecedented economic crisis and pandemic.
With this position, Manchin stands directly against President Joe Biden, fracturing the party at a time when unity is sorely needed to pass key parts of the Democrats’ agenda. Manchin is also standing directly against the dozens of progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) who have said that they will not accept a smaller reconciliation deal.
Progressives have said that they will vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains very little funding for climate and social programs if conservative Democrats water down the reconciliation bill, as they’re threatening to do.
Manchin has continually stood against Democratic priorities like voting rights and addressing the climate crisis over the past months, earning a poor reputation among progressives and Democrats alike. Instead, he seems to align closer to deep-pocketed lobbyists, many conservative-leaning, with whom he has created strong relationships.
Manchin helped to carve climate proposals out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, in fact, leaving only measly funding for electric vehicles. He also keeps a close relationship with fossil fuel lobbyists and wealthy Wall Street figures who are lobbying against many of the climate, taxation and social proposals in the mix with the reconciliation bill.
“Manchin has weekly huddles with Exxon and is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this ‘bipartisan’ corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation.”