Rev. William Barber speaks at a rally

Rev. Dr. William Barber speaks during a demonstration at the U.S. Supreme Court on November 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for MoveOn)

Rev. William Barber Condemns Manchin's 'Immoral, Unmerciful, Economically Insane' Obstruction

Manchin is "a plutocrat who only cares about what his corporate backers and profit-driven masters want," said the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, the co-chair of the national Poor People's Campaign, lambasted Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday for endangering both the Build Back Better Act and voting rights legislation, two central elements of the Democratic Party's popular legislative agenda.

"December is the Senate's deadline, but the deadline for the movement is when we win."

"Manchin's immoral, unmerciful, economically insane, and constitutionally inconsistent blocking of both Build Back Better and voting rights protections is at the heart of this havoc," Barber said in a statement as Senate Democrats scrambled to find a way forward for their flagship reconciliation package, which--thanks to Manchin's opposition--likely won't receive a vote in the upper chamber until next year, if at all.

Barber accused the West Virginia Democrat of lying to President Joe Biden to secure final passage of the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill last month because he is "a plutocrat who only cares about what his corporate backers and profit-driven masters want no matter how many people--the 140 million poor and low-wealth people--are hurt."

Manchin's continued opposition to the Build Back Better Act imperils Democrats' chances of approving billions of dollars in investments in green energy, Medicaid expansion, and other priorities that President Joe Biden touted on the campaign trail in 2020.

Failure to pass the reconciliation package before the end of the year would cause the expanded child tax credit program to lapse, potentially pushing 10 million kids back into poverty or into deeper poverty--an economic travesty and a potential political disaster for Democrats going into the 2022 midterm elections. Manchin reportedly wants to zero out the program, which would be extended for another year under the Build Back Better Act.

"Meanwhile," Barber continued, "other Democrats hide behind [Manchin] and 50 Republican senators sit on their hands and watch the economic disaster and destruction of our democracy with ghoulish glee."

Since the beginning of the year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 19 states have enacted at least 33 Republican-authored laws that restrict ballot access--and congressional Democrats have repeatedly failed to pass legislation that would thwart the GOP's nationwide voter suppression push, due in large part to opposition from Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

"It's not too late, however, if we come together right now in a fusion movement and put massive street pressure on him and the political process as we move into the new year," said Barber, who earlier this week helped lead a protest at which dozens were arrested as they demanded passage of voting rights legislation and the Build Back Better Act.

"This December, a new intensity has been born as the Senate's failure to act is another link in the chain of events that served to only embolden us and intensify our moral dissent," Barber added. "December is the Senate's deadline, but the deadline for the movement is when we win."

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