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Democrats plan to vote on the social spending bill, despite Manchin's 'no'

Despite Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition Senate Majority leader Schumer says he still intends to bring up the $2 trillion social and climate policy bill for a vote
J. Scott Applewhite
Despite Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition Senate Majority leader Schumer says he still intends to bring up the $2 trillion social and climate policy bill for a vote

Updated December 20, 2021 at 5:12 PM ET

A day after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., appeared to torpedo chances of its passage, the Senate majority leader said he still intends to bring the Biden administration's proposed $2 trillion social and climate program bill up for a vote next year.

In a letter to Senate Democrats, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote that "the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television."

The reference to television was a not-so-veiled jab at Manchin, who announced he would vote no on the measure during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Schumer said that "nearly all of us were disappointed by the decision to delay floor consideration of the Build Back Better Act because Sen. Manchin could not come to an agreement with the president."

Without Manchin's support, the measure is doomed to failure, because of the united opposition from every Republican in the evenly divided chamber.

Manchin, meanwhile, expressed frustration with the White House's dealings with him in an interview Monday on a West Virginia radio station.

He told MetroNews that "they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable."

The West Virginian also rekindled speculation about his status in the Democratic Party, stating in the West Virginia interview that "I would like to hope that there are still Democrats that feel like I do, like I said, I'm socially and fiscally responsible and socially compassionate."

He added, "Now, if there's no Democrats like that then they have to push me wherever they want."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a blistering statement on Sunday, charging that Manchin's comments on Fox earlier in the day "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."

Rep. Jayapal, a leading House progressive, said Manchin called her Monday

Some progressive lawmakers have also expressed anger at Manchin for his declaration. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the senator called her Monday morning.

"I do believe the president, when he said to us — and to me personally — that he got a commitment from Sen. Manchin or he would have to go back on his word," Jayapal said. "And obviously yesterday, the senator took the latter path and went back on his word. That lack of integrity is stunning in a town where people say the only thing that you have is your work."

And it isn't just progressive Democrats who felt betrayed by Manchin. Moderate Rep. Abagail Spanberger, D-Va., issued a statement that while not mentioning Manchin by name said one Democratic senator "has now summarily walked away from productive negotiations. That is unacceptable, and we cannot act like this moment is the end. Children, families, and the future of our planet are counting on us."

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was conciliatory toward Manchin at an event in San Francisco on Monday and said she was confident that "Sen. Manchin cares about our country, and that at some point very soon we can take up the legislation. I'm not deterred at all," she said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.