After conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced his opposition to imperative climate provisions in Democrats’ new reconciliation bill on Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) castigated the West Virginia senator for his role in killing his party’s agenda over the past year.
In an interview on Sunday on ABC, Sanders said that Manchin never planned on negotiating the reconciliation bill in good faith with Democratic leaders, who have seen Manchin kill nearly every proposal except for prescription drug prices, which could also be limited by the conservative.
After ABC’s Marsha Raddatz said that Manchin “abruptly pulled the plug” on the climate provisions of the bill, Sanders said, “I disagree. He didn’t abruptly do anything.”
“If you check the record six months ago, I made it clear that we have people like Manchin and [Sen. Kyrsten] Sinema, to a lesser degree, who are intentionally sabotaging the president’s agenda, what the American people want, what a majority of us in the Democratic caucus want,” Sanders continued. “Nothing new about this. And the problem was that we continued to talk to Manchin like he was serious. He was not.”
Last week, Manchin said that he would not support a reconciliation bill that included funding for tax incentives to shift to renewable energies, which Democrats had hoped to include in their new bill. This could be Democrats’ last best hope to pass climate legislation to meet a goal of 50 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels before the decade’s end.
Sanders pointed out that Manchin’s loyalties largely lie with his deep-pocketed donors and the fossil fuel industry. Manchin is the top recipient of fossil fuel industry contributions in Congress, as the number one recipient of donations from the oil and gas, fossil gas, mining and coal mining industries, according to OpenSecrets.
“This is a guy who is a major recipient of fossil fuel money, a guy who has received campaign contributions from 25 Republican billionaires,” Sanders said. Manchin’s supposed fears about inflation — which economists have said isn’t a legitimate reason to vote against bills like the Build Back Better Act — is just the “same nonsense” that the coal baron has been spewing for over a year, he went on.
By opposing popular proposals like Medicare for All, raising taxes on corporations and the rich, and expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision, Sanders said that Manchin isn’t representing his constituents. Instead, the right-wing senator is working on behalf of billionaires and other deep-pocketed interests.
“In my humble opinion, Manchin represents the very wealthiest people in this country — not working families in West Virginia or America,” Sanders said.
Sanders warned that Manchin’s obstruction endangers the entirety of humanity, and concluded by calling on voters to continue electing progressives into office to combat the outsized power of Manchin and the Republicans he works closely with. “It ain’t Democrats. It isn’t the president. It is the future of the planet,” he said, objecting to the framing that inaction on the climate is a purely political issue. “This is an existential threat to humanity.”