‘This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state’
“This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,” the West Virginia Democrat shot back.
On Friday, Mr Sanders wrote an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail – a newspaper in Mr Manchin’s home state – extolling the virtues of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill and pointing out that only two Senate Democrats oppose it: Kyrsten Sinema and Mr Manchin.
The $3.5 trillion bill, Mr Sanders says, would expand Medicare, extend federal aid to working parents, provide for free pre-K and community college, and help battle climate change, among other goals.
But as Mr Sanders points out, Senate Republicans unanimously oppose the bill, which means it needs the support of all 50 Democrats – plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris – to pass.
“Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation,” Mr Sanders writes. “Yet, the political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote ‘yes.’ We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.”
Mr Manchin did not appreciate being called out.
“To be clear, again, Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs,” the senator tweeted on Friday night. “No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that.”
(Mr Sanders has previously run for office as an Independent, and self-identifies as a “democratic socialist”, although he caucuses with Democrats.)
Mr Manchin, who has opposed the budget bill in part because of its size, cited concerns about inflation in his retort.
“Millions of jobs are open, supply chains are strained and unavoidable inflation taxes are draining workers’ hard-earned wages as the price of gasoline and groceries continues to climb,” the senator wrote. “Senator Sanders’ answer is to throw more money on an already overheated economy while 52 other senators have grave concerns about this approach.”
On Friday, President Biden indicated that negotiations between progressive and moderate Democrats are continuing, and he is confident that through compromise, Build Back Better will get passed in the end.
“We’re not going to get $3.5 trillion,” Mr Biden told reporters. “We’ll get less than that, but we’re gonna get it.”