Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined the chorus challenging Sen. Joe Manchin’s sudden about-face claiming he will not vote in favor of the Build Back Better Act. In a Sunday morning interview on Fox News, the West Virginia senator claimed he could not support the legislation, which has been the subject of negotiations most of the year.
The legislation has been a core part of President Joe Biden’s agenda to get the country back on track after historic setbacks due to the pandemic and the economic crisis. Speaking with Jake Tapper on State of the Union earlier today, Pressley said she never trusted Manchin to do what was right.
“He has continued to move the goalpost,” Pressley told Tapper. “He has never negotiated in good faith, and he is obstructing the president’s agenda. Eighty-five percent of which is still left on the table.”
Pressley said that by obstructing the president’s agenda, Manchin was obstructing the people’s agenda.
“I was listening to his interview earlier today and he said it’s a mammoth bill,” she continued. “You’re right. It’s a mammoth bill to address mammoth hurt. You know to lower the cost of elder care, childcare, prescription drug costs, the child tax credit which is so critical in combating child poverty.”
The congresswoman pointed to the high rate of child poverty in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia. A June report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that West Virginia ranked 44ths for overall child well-being. It’s estimated that as many as 70,000 children live in poverty in the state, many of whom would benefit from the expanded programs funded by the Build Back Better Act.
As the child tax credit expired last Friday, Manchin’s refusal to back the landmark bill has put thousands of families in his home state and across the country in jeopardy.
“Moreover, in his interview, he spoke about inflation,” Pressley said. “We know that there is inflation because of the impacts of this pandemic, so the most responsible thing that we can do is to pass the Build Back Better Act. We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the president’s agenda, to obstruct the people’s agenda. Jake all I want for Christmas is a senator that has compassion for the American people and not contempt.
Pressley’s House colleague Rep. Jamaal Bowman from New York shared a similar sentiment on Twitter Sunday.
“Wow, @Sen_JoeManchin, with all due respect, when you say you’re a no on Build Back Better – is it you?” Bowman tweeted. “Or is it the special interest that powers you? I’m inviting you to my district to see just how badly we need this bill. Will you tell my community ‘No’ to our face?”
Bowman further outlined the impact on Manchin’s refusal to engage in good faith, including no movement on the proposed cap on insulin, extended child tax credit, affordable childcare, and funding for community violence and trauma intervention.
He also noted that the Build Back Better Act expanded funding for drinking water and public transit in addition to allotments in the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed earlier this year. The two bills were meant to be companion legislation to uplift the country’s physical and social infrastructure.
Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, called Manchin’s pledge to vote no “betrayal of working families.”
“This is an absolute betrayal of working families! A guy with a houseboat and Maserati is blowing up a bill that would cap insulin prices, provide universal pre-K, address the climate crisis, and so much more. Disgraceful,” Kenyatta tweeted.
Kenyatta’s colleague Rep. Summer Lee, who is also running for Congress, took an opportunity to point out the need to elect fighters willing to represent the needs of impacted communities around the country.
“Progressives in Congress & the marginalized folks they come from &represent saw this miles away…bc we’re the ones who are ALWAYS on this side of the raw bargains We say we want people w/lived experiences in office, but then we don’t trust their experience when it counts,” Lee tweeted.
Whether Manchin can be swayed remains to be seen, but these and other Black elected officials are not letting him off the hook. There’s too much at stake.