Sanders and the Squad Knew Manchin Couldn’t Be Trusted

President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic leaders were shocked when West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin ripped off his Democrats on Sunday by announcing that after months of tortured, closed-door negotiations, he would vote against Biden’s Build Back Better agenda . White House press secretary Jen Psaki torn in Manchin, who are scorched by the Western Virgins for “suddenly and inexplicably reversing his position” and accusing the Senator of “violating his obligations”.

“I was surprised,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), Biden’s closest ally in the Senate and a key deputy to the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.).

But not everyone in Washington was surprised that the inside game failed.

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), The MP Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) And members of the progressive cadre in the House of Representatives started arguing months ago – in connection with Grassroots activists in West Virginia and at the national level – that there was a need to more aggressively address the West Virginia Senator’s delaying tactics. They refused to leave Manchin when in doubt, calling out its transparent attempts to serve the interests of corporate campaign donors – and its own self-interest – rather than the best interests of the people of West Virginia, its party, and its country.

Sanders gave a first volley in the form of a in October Opinion piece published in the Sunday edition of West Virginias most influential daily newspaper, the Charleston Gazette Mail. Sanders argued that Manchin was on the wrong side of a “historic opportunity to support the working class families of West Virginia,” Sanders stated that the Build Back Better Plan was essential piece of legislation that would benefit West Virginians.

“The Build Back Better plan is critical not only for seniors, but also hugely important for working families and their children,” Sanders wrote. “As a result of the direct payments of US $ 300 to working class parents that began with the US bailout plan, we have halved child poverty in our country. It would be unreasonable to stop these payments, and that is exactly what will happen if we do not pass this law. ”

Then he realized why the plan had stalled. Yes, he noted, it has been rejected “by every Republican in Congress, as well as by pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire class.” However, he stated that Republican obstruction was not the main factor delaying action on a $ 3.5 trillion plan to expand Medicare and Medicaid, provide free higher education for working-class students, tackle child poverty, and tackle the climate crisis. “[The] The political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate, every Democratic Senator has to vote “yes”. We only have 48 left now. Two Democratic Senators remain in the opposition, including Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va. ”

Manchin was angrywhich is supposed to have been a sign that Sanders had hit exactly the right nerve. It was time for Democratic leaders to name Manchin’s Bluff by making it absolutely and unequivocally clear that the senior senator from West Virginia did not represent the people of Mountaineer State – the majority of whom Surveys have shown, favored the programs outlined by Biden and Sanders in the Build Back Better agenda. Unfortunately, the president and top Democrats refused to openly confront Manchin. They decided to continue negotiating behind the scenes and continue to promise that the corporate-minded senator could be trusted.

There was never any evidence that this was the case. But after the Democrats suffered severe setbacks in the November 2 out-of-year elections – something many analysts blamed on voter frustration at the lack of progress on the president’s domestic agenda – the White House worked with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi together to get things going. To do this, Pelosi and her allies suggested a break with the strategy of combining the passing of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which Manchin and other corporate democrats wanted to implement quickly, with the Build Back Better Act. Linking the measures gave the White House and more progressive members of Congress leverage in negotiating with Manchin, but Pelosi got most Democrats, including many prominent progressives, to accept separate measures on the proposals. The promise was that the house would say goodbye to both – put the infrastructure bill on Biden’s desk for signature and insert it quick negotiations to “conclude the deal” with Manchin on Build Back Better.

Omar and several members of the squad defied this strategy, effectively implying that Manchin was untrustworthy. MPs Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) And Omar broke with fellow Democrats and voted against the infrastructure bill of $ 1.2 trillion, as well as MPs Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (DN.Y.). Their reasoning was clear: there was no point in giving up the last real negotiating tool they had without assurances that the $ 1.75 trillion welfare package would be approved.

The House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Bill, with a handful of Republicans joining most of the Democrats to vote “yes”. But Manchin gave no assurances. And now he’s talking all over Fox News about blocking the law, arguing that he’s “done all he can”.

“Let’s be clear: Manchin’s excuse is nonsense” said Omara. “The people of West Virginia would benefit directly from childcare, pre-Medicare expansion, and long-term care, just like the Minnesota residents.”

“This is exactly what we warned about if we were to disconnect Build Back Better from the infrastructure,” added Omar.

Manchin couldn’t be trusted. The right strategy was to build a grassroots movement in West Virginia to pressure him to do the right thing there the Rev. William Barber II and the poor people’s proposed campaign. Barber – like Sanders and the Squad – realized that it took more than negotiation in the back room to move Manchin, even if the top Democrats didn’t.

“Joe Manchin was a liar all along” Barber tweeted On Sunday. “The only way to deal with him is to expose him. And let your own people, poor people, low wage workers and religious leaders do it, ”he added. “Doing this on Christmas week is a sign of how confused he is!”

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