Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding that the Senate still vote on Biden’s Build Back Better spending bill in January. But with the loss of West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin’s support, the Democrats would almost certainly lose.
The Senate is evenly split at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris casing a deciding vote in the event of a tie. So, assuming GOP opposition remains firm, the massive spending bill would need every Democratic senator’s approval plus Harris’ vote. Manchin’s decision to not support it should spell its doom.
However, Schumer has announced that Democrats should be ready to vote on the bill in the new year.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer said Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial.
Manchin’s announcement on “Fox News Sunday” that he would not be backing the bill sent the White House and Democrats into a tailspin yesterday.
Democrats claim the nearly $2 trillion spending plan is meant to expand the nation’s social safety net, battle climate change and advance other progressive priorities, but Manchin said he does not think it’s entirely helpful and is worried that it would actually make the already soaring inflation in the U.S. even worse.
“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation,” Manchin said in a statement released after his Fox interview, according to CNN.
The White House began pressuring Manchin in response. But he is still standing firm in his refusal to back the bill.
“I knew where they were, and I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it, because they figured surely to God we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough,” Manchin told a West Virginia talk show, according to NBC News.
“Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period,” he added.
The Hill reported Tuesday that Democrats plan to pressure Manchin.
“He’s going to blow up the president’s agenda so I think you have to play hardball but there are different ways to play hardball,” Steve Jarding, a Democratic strategist, told The Hill. “He’s making them looking ineffective.”
Schumer might have banked on his announcement about the vote as a show of strength, but it’s almost certain to backfire.
In a nutshell, Schumer is making the matter worse by forcing the vote if the bill is doomed to fail. This will weaken the Democrats’ position in Senate and make the whole party look ineffective, which will especially hurt those running for re-election in competitive states who are already vulnerable because of the Biden administration’s failures, ranging from illegal immigration, to the coronavirus, to the economy to foreign policy.
It also makes Schumer himself look weak, but this is the result of him bowing to the pressure the left, especially New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who could challenge Schumer in a primary next year.
“Mr. Schumer’s calculation is no doubt career preservation, as he’s bowed to AOC for months. But we wonder how other Senate Democrats feel, especially those planning to run for re-election next year in swing states,” the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal wrote.
This whole debacle is good for Republicans though. As the Democrats are now unable to pass the bill and fight among themselves, the Republicans have been standing firmly against the Build Back Better bill.
Schumer is courting disaster — for his party, and his own tenure as the Senate’s majority leader.
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