US senator Joe Manchin sinks Biden’s ambitious legislative hopes

West Virginia representative told Fox News he was a 'no' on the president's Build Back Better Bill

Senator Joe Manchin said he 'cannot vote to continue with' US President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Bill. AP

Senator Joe Manchin has dealt a major blow to President Joe Biden’s ambitious legislative agenda.

Mr Manchin said on Sunday he could no longer support Mr Biden’s Build Back Better Bill, the multi-trillion dollar climate and social spending bill that would help reshape the country.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of Legislation,” he told Fox News.

Democrat Mr Manchin has voiced concern for the bill from the very beginning and for months has been a stubborn hold out.

But this is the first time he has dealt a potential death blow to the legislation.

“I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there. This is a no.”

Mr Manchin has worked closely with the president for months on this bill, but he cited concerns over another surge in Covid-19 cases and adding to the national debt, which sits at over $28 trillion.

“The president has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with. He knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had,” said Mr Manchin.

Mr Biden and his team had already curtailed the bill significantly to appease Mr Manchin, including reducing the price tag and getting rid of a clean electricity programme that the senator feared would negatively impact his constituents in coal dependent West Virginia.

But it appears that wasn’t enough.

News of Manchin’s decision sent shockwaves through Washington.

“I think he's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia,” senator Bernie Sanders told CNN.

The White House appears to have been caught off guard by Senator Manchin's comments and responded on Sunday. "If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they 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," said Press Secretary Jenn Psaki in a statement.

With an evenly split Senate, Mr Biden needs the support of all 50 democratic senators to pass legislation, without Mr Manchin, his hopes of pushing through the Build Back Better Bill are slim.

It’s not the way the president wanted to end a difficult year, with his legislative agenda on life support and Covid cases raging across the country.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 9:52 PM