Manchin stands alone in stopping Biden's agenda with the power of one

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Senator Joe Manchin arrived at President Joe Biden’s Delaware family home on Sunday morning as Democrats worked tirelessly to win his support for their ambitious domestic package.

Manchin stands alone in stopping Biden's agenda with the power of one

This two-hour session was a special one. The president even showed Manchin around his Wilmington residence at one point.

But Manchin has not voted yes even though Democrats cut Biden's large bill in half over the past months.

A single senator is poised to set aside a whole presidential agenda in an astonishing display of political power within the 50-50 Senate.

The majority whip, Sen. Dick Durbin said that "we're frustrated" and was disappointed. Another Democratic senator, who spoke anonymously to discuss the situation on Thursday, said that he was "very frustrated".

In a statement Thursday night, Biden stated that he believed that "we will still bridge our differences" and move forward with the Build Back Better plan, despite fierce Republican opposition.

With his domestic agenda in Congress stalled, senators are now coming to terms that the president's plan and the Democrats' high-priority vote rights package would have to be delayed until next year.

A failure to fulfill Biden's approximately $2 trillion environmental and social bill would spell doom for the president's first full year of office.

Manchin's actions cause chaos for Democrats at a time when families are fighting the long-running COVID-19 crisis. Biden's party must convince voters heading to the 2022 election of their party's ability to control Washington as promised in its campaign promises.

Andrew Bates, deputy White House press secretary, stated that Manchin has been insisting that the White House is treating the administration with "good faith."

Manchin has proven to be an inept negotiator, breaking norms and straining relationships by saying one thing and the next while adjusting his demands, positions and reasoning along the way.

Democratic senators are tired of their Republican colleague Mitch McConnell, who they can't live without but whose frequent chats with them raise concerns about his potential switch to the Republican party and their fragile hold on power.

"Mr. "Mr. Let them tell the American people this."

He seems to enjoy and hate all the attention that he has received over the months at Biden’s Delaware home with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. In regular visits to the White House and during his daily walks through the Capitol, where Biden banters amiably, asks questions, or just clams up, which then becomes its own statement, leaving Manchin-whisperers wondering what the senator's silence is.

He said, "I got nothing" to reporters waiting outside Democratic's closed-door lunchroom Thursday when it became apparent that there was no Christmas deal.

Manchin's long-running commentary on what he wants to see in Biden's package is the consistent thread in Manchin's endless hallway utterances. He's not there yet, but that's the short version.

Manchin, as the former chief executive -- as governor in a state that polls show ranks 47th for health care outcomes and 45th for education -- ultimately decides where attention should go. He has proven to be effective.

Manchin has so far gotten much of his wishes: Biden reduced the $3.5 trillion proposal by half to $1.75 Trillion after Manchin consented.

Manchin claimed that the proposed 28% corporate tax rate Biden raised would not rise beyond 25%. However, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, opposed it.

Senator from the coal-state insisted that the new incentives for renewable energy to combat climate change would not be at the cost of fossil fuels. The White House pulled out of plans to establish a national renewable energy standard, which environmental advocates considered the most important tool in curbing climate change.

Manchin's demand for "no additional aid" has limited some social programs and appears to be destined to thwart plans to create the nation's first paid family and medical leave program. This program is for workers whose employer doesn't pay for the time to care for loved ones temporarily.

However, it is not clear what Manchin really wants. It raises the question whether Manchin actually wants Congress to pass any "Build back Better Act."

Progressives fear that Manchin's stalemate was precisely what they feared. This was after Congress approved a $1 trillion companion bipartisan infrastructure bill to force the two bills to go together to Biden's desk.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan, called it "tragic." Rep. Cori Bus of Missouri stated that "We mustn't undermine our power and the power of people by putting the fate of Build Back Better in the hands of one senator: Joe Manchin."

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, was responsible for Biden's latest compromise version. She downplayed Manchin negotiations as part and parcel of the process. She said, "This is legislating."

Manchin made a new demand this week. He suggested that the enhanced child tax reduction, which was one of the most important federal policies Democrats enacted this fiscal year, lifting around 40% of the nation from poverty, must be extended for 10 years rather than one as the House approved in cost-cutting compromise.

It's not a good idea -- the cost of a decade-long tax cut for children would consume most of Biden's budget.

This is all while Democrats need to support Sinema and Manchin for Senate rules changes to be able to surpass the 60 vote threshold to defeat a Republican filibuster in order to pass voting rights.

As they do often, Manchin and McConnell met on Thursday.

The Republican leader said that he loves to talk and, as you probably know, the Republican leader. It would not surprise me to tell you that I have suggested for years that he should come over to our side, as a representative of a deep red state such as West Virginia.

McConnell said, "I don’t think that’s going to happen."

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