WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed Monday to hold a vote early next year on a roughly $2 trillion bill to overhaul the country’s health-care, education, climate, immigration and tax laws, despite Sunday’s announcement by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that he could not support President Joe Biden’s signature legislation.

Although the Build Back Better Act cannot pass without Manchin’s support in the evenly divided Senate, Schumer said a vote would put every senator on the record.

“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer said. “We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done.”

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., emerges from a Democratic Caucus meeting as the Senate continues to grapple with end-of-year tasks at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Schumer’s letter came a day after Manchin, during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” delivered what many saw as a potentially fatal blow to one of the centerpieces of Biden’s agenda with his declaration that he “just can’t” support it.

Manchin appeared dug in Monday during an appearance on the MetroNews radio station in West Virginia. Manchin said he has been urging his colleagues to put the bill to a vote and said Democrats overestimated their ability to get him on board.

“I’m not blaming anybody,” he said. “I knew where they were, and I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it, because they figured surely, dear God, we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough [that] they’ll just say, ‘I’ll go for anything. Just quit.'”


“Well guess what, I’m from West Virginia,” Manchin added. “I’m not where they’re from and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive.”

During the interview, Manchin also complained about public pressure from White House staffers, saying, “They put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable.”

Asked if he saw a way forward – including breaking the bill up into smaller pieces of legislation – Manchin complained about the legislative process surrounding the Build Back Better Act, saying it was not subject to sufficient scrutiny by committees.

“Don’t you think maybe a committee could put eyes on it, have hearings where the public can see where the differences may be between Democrats or between Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “That’s what hearings are for, and then make a decision.”

Manchin’s announcement Sunday, which he later fleshed out in a statement, prompted a wave of criticism from fellow Senate Democrats, as well as from the White House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki unleashed a blistering 712-word written statement accusing Manchin of making a “sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position” and calling his comments a “breach of his commitments” to Biden and Democratic lawmakers, if he has decided to end negotiations.


In explaining his opposition after weeks of negotiations with Biden and his Senate colleagues, Manchin cited rising consumer prices, a growing federal debt and the arrival of a new coronavirus variant as reasons he could not supply his must-have vote. During the radio interview Monday, he emphasized the role of inflation in his thinking.

In a letter Sunday night to colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made no mention of Manchin but said she remains “hopeful” that a deal can still be reached on legislation that has already cleared her chamber.

“First and foremost, our work For The People demands that we stay at the table to pass the Build Back Better Act,” Pelosi said.

Schumer’s vow to hold a vote on the bill echoed that of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who said Sunday that Manchin would “have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia” about his opposition to the bill.

In his letter Monday, Schumer noted that the negotiations have already delayed an anticipated vote on the bill by the end of the year.

“Neither that delay, nor other recent pronouncements, will deter us from continuing to try to find a way forward,” Schumer wrote. “We simply cannot give up. We must and we will keep fighting to deliver for working families.”


Returning to the White House on Monday from Delaware, Biden did not respond to questions shouted by reporters about Manchin.

Manchin continued to face blowback Monday from Democratic colleagues, particularly from liberal lawmakers, for his Sunday announcement.

During a morning television appearance, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., accused Manchin of a “betrayal of working families across the country” and said his announcement was “an egregious breach of the trust of the president.”

She was referring to a claim by the White House that Manchin, just days earlier, had promised to continue negotiations with Biden after submitting a written framework of a version of the bill he could back.

“No one can really be promised a Manchin vote,” Ocasio-Cortez said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that fellow Democrats had been “strung along” by the senator.

In his letter, Schumer said senators would also consider voting rights legislation as early as the first week after they return to Washington in January.


Schumer said that if Republicans continue to block such legislation, the chamber will consider a change in rules.

“If Senate Republicans continue to abuse the filibuster and prevent the body from considering this bill, the Senate will then consider changes to any rules which prevent us from debating and reaching final conclusion on important legislation,” he wrote.

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The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

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