Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders responded forcefully on Wednesday to remarks from Sen. Joe Manchin, one of just two senators holding up the Build Back Better budget reconciliation package containing key parts of President Joe Biden\u0026#039;s agenda.\r\n\r\n\u0022Does Sen. Manchin really believe that seniors are not entitled to digest their food and that they\u0026#039;re not entitled to hear and see properly?\u0022\r\n\r\nManchin (D-W.Va.), who has proposed a $1.5 trillion investment over a decade versus the $3.5 trillion favored by the vast majority of Democrats, said Wednesday that \u0022I don\u0026#039;t believe that we should turn our society into an entitlement society.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022I think that we should still be a compassionate, rewarding society,\u0022 he continued. \u0022Compassion means taking care of those who can\u0026#039;t take care of themselves, whether they\u0026#039;re young, whether they\u0026#039;ve had some type of a challenge in life, whether it be mental or physical, those are responsibilities that we have and we can all meet those responsibilities.\u0022\r\n\r\nWhile Manchin expressed support for some of the policies being negotiated—including reforms targeting the beneficiaries of the GOP\u0026#039;s 2017 tax cuts and allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices—Sanders (I-Vt.) responded by asking his colleague to \u0022tell us with specificity, not generalities …what he wants and what he does not want, and to explain that to the people of West Virginia and America.\u0022\r\n\r\nDuring his afternoon press conference, Sanders highlighted that the proposed $3.5 trillion investment is backed by not only the American public and Biden but also most Democratic caucus members in the House and all but two—Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—in the Senate. He also noted who is \u0022vigorously\u0022 opposed to the bill: the pharmaceutical, health insurance, and fossil fuel industries as well as the tax-avoidant \u0022billionaire class.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPointing to Manchin\u0026#039;s \u0022entitlement society\u0022 comment, Sanders launched into a series of questions for the West Virginian, beginning with: \u0022Does that mean that we end the $300 direct payments for working-class parents, which have cut childhood poverty… in half? Is protecting working families and cutting childhood poverty an \u0026#039;entitlement\u0026#039;?\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022At a time when millions of seniors… have teeth in their mouths that are rotting, when they can\u0026#039;t afford hearing aids in order to communicate with their grandchildren, and when they can\u0026#039;t afford a pair of glasses in order to read a newspaper, does Sen. Manchin really believe that seniors are not entitled to digest their food and that they\u0026#039;re not entitled to hear and see properly?\u0022 Sanders continued. \u0022Is that really too much to ask in the richest country on Earth?\u0022\r\n\r\nSanders also questioned whether Machin believes that \u0022we have to end the absurdity of the United States paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Does Sen. Manchin believe that we should be the only major country on Earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave?\u0022 Sanders said. \u0022And that working mothers should not be able to stay home with a child who is sick? Are workers not entitled to be able to do that?\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Does Sen. Manchin believe that working-class parents in West Virginia and Vermont… should have to pay 25 or 30% of their incomes on child care?\u0022 he asked. \u0022Are the children of this country not entitled to high-quality child care and pre-K education?\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSanders also inquired about Manchin\u0026#039;s position on whether working families are entitled to affordable housing—noting that hundreds of thousands of people are homeless—and whether Americans are \u0022entitled to at least two years of free community college,\u0022 particularly \u0022at a time when we have a major labor shortage… because our young people lack the skills they need.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022And, perhaps, most importantly, does Sen. Manchin not believe what the scientists are telling us, that we face an existential threat regarding climate change, and that it is absolutely imperative that we move boldly to cut carbon emissions?\u0022 Sanders asked. \u0022Does Sen. Manchin not believe that our children and grandchildren are entitled to live in a country and a world that is healthy and is habitable?\u0022\r\n\r\nManchin responded to the press conference by doubling down on his earlier comments. According to The Washington Post, he said: \u0022Respectfully, Sen. Sanders and I share very different policy and political beliefs. As he and I have discussed, Sen. Sanders believes America should be moving towards an entitlement society while I believe we should have a compassionate and rewarding society.\u0022\r\n\r\nQuestioned by reporters after his prepared remarks, Sanders made clear that he was not there to \u0022disparage\u0022 Manchin but suggested that his and Sinema\u0026#039;s ongoing opposition to a version of the reconciliation package backed by most Democrats is irresponsible.\r\n\r\nWhile mostly taking aim at Manchin and his \u0022entitlement\u0022 comment, Sanders also said that Sinema should \u0022absolutely\u0022 make her positions on various parts of the package clear to the public.\r\n\r\nThis post has been updated with additional comment from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).