Joe Manchin Addressed His Democrat Colleagues Last Night — Here's What He Said

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Yesterday, it was announced that Senate Democrats would hold a conference call to discuss their next moves following Joe Manchin’s nuking of the Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill. And while there was speculation about whether Manchin would attend, it has now been confirmed that he did.

Not only was he on the call, but he spoke about his decision and what’s next. Here’s how that went, at least according to whoever leaked this to CNN’s Manu Raju.

There’s more, but let’s stop there. The throw-in about taxing the rich has to do with Manchin’s support for repealing the Trump tax cuts. Perhaps he believes he can soften the blow for his Democrat colleagues by offering them something that always gets their juices flowing? But given that a huge SALT tax break for the wealthy was included in the BBB bill, that seems to conflict with that goal. Perhaps the mention of taxing the rich also hints at the SALT “reform” being one of the stumbling blocks for Manchin?

But he also brings up inflation and adding to the debt, which again would indicate there’s little room for compromise. There is no world in which the BBB bill, even stripped down, doesn’t add to the debt over the long term. As Manchin notes, it costs more than the initial CBO estimate because that estimate was garnered via numerous budgetary gimmicks, i.e. limiting the length of programs compared to years of funding while vowing to extend those programs later.

On the call, Schumer also confirmed that he is planning on voting to advance the House-passed version of the BBB bill. That will ultimately fail given Manchin’s opposition to it.

I know everyone on the right is just waiting for Manchin to fold, but color me skeptical this is anything more than reconciliatory language that doesn’t actually lead anywhere. The electoral dynamics in his home state of West Virginia have not changed and they will not change.

Rather, as I speculated before he announced his intention to kill the BBB bill, this all feels like Manchin is stalling. He’s now successfully pushed the vote into next year. Once that vote fails, negotiations will have to begin again, and Manchin appears to be nowhere close regarding the current language. It’s the playbook he just ran all over again.

But it’s not just Manchin. While he has represented the public foil for Democrats on this issue, Kyrsten Sinema has also expressed her opposition from the sidelines, and rumors are that there are multiple other senators who are against it but don’t want to say so publicly. Further, with next year being an election year, that complicates matters for Democrats from competitive areas of the country.

What we do know is that if something does eventually pass, it will be largely symbolic and nothing compared to the nearly $2 trillion bill current set to be voted on. In a country where Democrats enjoy unified control of the government, that would be about as much as Republicans can hope for.