Joe Manchin at a Senate hearing

Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) conducts a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

'He Isn't Negotiating, He Is Killing the Bill': Ilhan Omar Slams Joe Manchin

"Thanks to the butchering of Manchin, Sinema, and the greed of their corporate lobbyists," said one critic, the Democrats' Build Back Better plan has been slashed down to just $1.9 trillion in spending.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar issued fresh public rebuke of Sen. Joe Manchin late Tuesday night, accusing her fellow Democrat of openly sabotaging the Build Back Better agenda that is at the center of their party's effort to make sweeping social investments to lift up the American working class in the midst of the ongoing pandemic by expanding Medicare, curbing childhood poverty, increasing affordable housing, spending big on climate, offering paid family leave, and initiating universal pre-K and childcare.

With reporting overnight that the White House has agreed in principle to drop the topline number of the reconciliation package down to $1.9 trillion--a number that progressives initially staked for a ten-year program at $10 trillion, later $6 trillion, and then $3.5 trillion--Omar said it was "time we all recognized" what Manchin is doing.

Omar's tweet was in response to reporting that Manchin as recently as Tuesday afternoon had still not budged from his offer to drag the overall price tag of the legislation down to $1.5 trillion.

"Sadly, his shameful tactics will cost his constituents much needed investments for themselves and families," Omar warned.

The Washington Postreports that President Joe Biden told Democrats in Congress during a White House meeting Tuesday that the $1.9 trillion should be the new target for ongoing negotiations that have pitted nearly the entire Democratic caucus against Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona--both of whom have been showered with campaign funds from corporate interests groups.

According to the Post:

By the White House's calculations, a package up to $1.9 trillion would allow them to accomplish some of their most significant priorities. That includes at least some expansion of Medicare to offer new benefits to seniors, the introduction of universal prekindergarten, and billions of dollars to address climate change, the sources said, cautioning that many of the details must still be worked out.

But slimming down the package also is sure to force Democrats to make some sacrifices. The path put forward by the White House could extend new, expanded child tax credit payments recently adopted by Congress, but perhaps for only one additional year, three of the sources said. It would offer new money to make housing more affordable, yet far less than Democrats once envisioned. And it would provide paid leave, except only four weeks of benefits, rather than the 12 weeks some had once proposed, according to one of the people in the room.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warned people against focusing on the topline number but voiced optimism following the White House meeting she and other progressives attended with Biden on Tuesday afternoon.

"I want to thank President Biden for his leadership and for continuing to fight for his visionary, transformative, and popular Build Back Better Act. We had a very productive and necessary conversation about the urgent need to deliver the full Build Back Better agenda," Jayapal said in a written statement issued by the CPC after the meeting.

"We feel progress is being made toward an agreement that will make transformational investments in the five priorities that the CPC laid out months ago," Jayapal added, "specifically the care economy -- including child care, pre-K, paid leave, and home and community based care; housing; health care; climate action; and a roadmap to citizenship for immigrants."

Appearing on CNN, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday it was time for corporate media outlets and other pundits to stop asking progressives to "go smaller" and start asking obstructionists in the party like Manchin to "go bigger."

Outside progressive critics, meanwhile, took issue with what appears to them like growing capitulations by the White House and Democratic leadership to the obstruction of Manchin, Sinema, and other corporate-backed members of the party.

The reduced ambition expressed by the White House on Tuesday, said columnist Wajahat Ali, is "[thanks] to the butchering of Manchin, Sinema and the greed of their corporate lobbyists."

And The Daily Poster's David Sirota said: "Congratulations to Biden and the Democrats--they've taken their own bill from $6 trillion, to $4 trillion, to $3.5 trillion, to $1.9 trillion, to $1.5 trillion, and are now well on the way to just 2 bucks and a used Casio [watch]."

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