Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday accused Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) of lying about his constituents’ opposition to President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda after the West Virginia Democrat pulled his support for the bill one day earlier.
Manchin said Sunday that he “cannot vote to continue with” President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion social spending plan, dashing Democrats’ hopes that the moderate Democrat could be persuaded to support the bill.
“When you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this, Bret, if I can’t go home to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” he told Fox News Sunday host Bret Baier.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Ocasio-Cortez claimed “the idea that Joe Manchin says that he can’t explain this back home to his people is a farce.”
“I mean, it’s a farce in terms of plain democracy because I represent more or just as many or more people than Joe Manchin does — perhaps more,” she said.
According to the Remington Research Group, 53 percent of West Virginians “strongly oppose” the legislation. Just a combined 37 percent either “somewhat support” or “strongly support” it. Moreover, 89 percent of the state’s residents are either “somewhat” or “very concerned” about inflation, with 73 percent falling into the latter category. Sixty-four percent believe that Build Back Better’s passage would result in even more dramatic price spikes.
Ocasio-Cortez represents more than 650,000 people across parts of the Bronx and Queens covered by New York’s 14th Congressional district; Manchin, meanwhile, is one of two senators who represent the state of West Virginia, which has a population of 1.792 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“But secondly and more importantly is that if you can’t explain to your constituents why the child tax credit that they are getting right now to help feed their kids in a time of record high prices should not be extended, that doesn’t seem like a problem with his constituents. That seems like a problem with his ability to either communicate or really I think there’s a different reason behind this vote,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Democratic leadership should hold a vote on Build Back Better so Manchin and others who oppose the measure are forced to publicly vote no.
“If they want to threaten dysfunction, they actually need to show up and do it,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “They just show up and do a talking filibuster. When — and by the way that is the compromise because there shouldn’t even be a filibuster in the first place. And they need to really make sure that we are actually calling people to their threats.”
She continued: “And this idea that we can just go on Fox News or go on and legislate through television and say that we are going to threaten to block ambassadorships or threaten the filibuster or threaten to vote no, have that result in actual institutional inaction is unacceptable.”
Ocasio-Cortez said Manchin’s actions were an “egregious breach of the trust of the president,” and noted that progressives had warned about the potential for Manchin to pull his support “well over a month ago.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal similarly accused Manchin of betraying his commitment “not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but … to the American people.”
“He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that,” she said of Manchin. “West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.”
Representative Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), who is a member of the progressive Squad along with Ocasio-Cortez, blasted Manchin during an appearance on CNN on Sunday: “To be clear my lack and deficit of trust was about Senator Manchin. He has continued to move the goal post. He has never negotiated in good faith and he is obstructing the President’s agenda.”
“All I want for Christmas is a Senator that has compassion for the American people, not contempt,” she added.
Representative Cori Bush (D., Mo.), who is also a member of the Squad, tweeted on Sunday: “Honestly, I’m frustrated with every Democrat who agreed to tie the fate of our most vulnerable communities to the corporatist ego of one Senator.”
“No one should have backed out of our initial strategy that would have kept Build Back Better alive,” she said, calling on Biden to “fix this.”
Squad member Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) wrote in a tweet on Sunday that Manchin’s “excuse is bulls**t.”
“The people of West Virginia would directly benefit from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long term care, just like Minnesotans,” she said. “This is exactly what we warned would happen if we separated Build Back Better from infrastructure.”
While Ocasio- Cortez said progressives “have every right to be furious with Joe Manchin,” she instead placed much of the blame on Democratic leadership who brought the party to this point. She called on the leaders to “take the kid gloves off” and start using the tools available to them to “govern for working families in this country.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday vowed that the Senate will vote on the Build Back Better Act in the new year, saying Democrats will “try to find a way forward” on the legislation.