A key linchpin in ensuring President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion infrastructure bill’s safe passage yesterday ruled himself out of backing it.
US senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who represents a crucial vote for Biden’s bill, said he would not support the package.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” Manchin told Fox News yesterday.
Manchin has been holding off on publicly announcing whether he supports the bill, which is designed to expand the social safety net and step up US efforts to tackle climate change.
It is also the flagship policy in President Biden’s legislative agenda.
Losing Manchin’s vote could derail the bill’s ascent through the US political system due to the Democrats’ slim margin of control.
Republicans are united in their opposition to the bill, meaning any dissenters would tip the balance in favour of the bill being struck down.
Biden said last week after talking with Manchin that the senator had reiterated “his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September.”
The infrastructure bill would hike taxes on the wealthy and blue-chip firms to pay for a string of measures, including boosting healthcare funding and providing free childcare.
Republicans have dismissed the package, arguing it will fuel inflation by ramping up government spending at a time when prices are already rising at the fastest rate in nearly 40 years.