WASHINGTON — Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., led the progressive charge in denouncing Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V.a., on Sunday after he said he would not support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.
“Today, Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people,” Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement. “He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.”
Jayapal noted last week that Biden had promised that “he could deliver the 50 senators needed” to make the House-passed version of the legislation into law.
Earlier on Sunday, Manchin, the linchpin of the 50-50 Senate, said he “can’t vote for” the $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate bill in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“This is a no on this legislation,” he told host Bret Baier. “I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”
In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Manchin’s comments on Fox News “represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
Before Congress passed the bipartisan infrastructure law last month, congressional progressives had pushed for the infrastructure package to move in tandem with the spending plan over concerns that passing infrastructure first would weaken their leverage in shaping and advancing the Build Back Better bill.
They initially withheld their support in an effort to force an agreement on the larger bill. But after several missed deadlines and many hours of wrangling between Democrats on both ends, all but six House progressives voted in the end to pass the infrastructure bill.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Sunday called out Democratic leaders for moving the infrastructure bill before Build Back Better. She also urged the Senate to reconvene immediately to bring the legislation to a vote.
“When a handful of us in the House warned this would happen if Dem leaders gave Manchin everything he wanted 1st by moving BIF before BBB instead of passing together, many ridiculed our position,” Ocasio-Cortez said on a series of tweets. “Maybe they’ll believe us next time. Or maybe people will just keep calling us naïve.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, said: “This is so much bigger than Manchin.”
“When democracies are no longer able to address their constituents’ needs and demands, authoritarians seize power. I’ve seen it time and time again,” Omar tweeted. “And ours was already on life support.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., said she has a “lack and deficit of trust” in regard to Manchin on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Ocasio-Cortez, Omar and Pressley voted against the infrastructure bill last month.
A series of other House progressives joined them in condemning Manchin, including Rep. Barbara Lee, D- Calif., who said, “This is exactly why my progressive colleagues and I fought so hard to keep the Build Back Better and Bipartisan Infrastructure bills together, because we knew that Senator Manchin may choose to side with Republicans and corporate lobbyists over American families.”
The Senate adjourned for the year early Saturday morning, with Democrats missing their self-imposed Christmas deadline to vote on the social spending package. Manchin’s opposition further delays key components of Biden’s agenda, foreshadowing a bumpy road ahead when the Senate returns on Jan. 3.
Teaganne Finn is a political reporter for NBC News.