Manchin’s Playing Everyone for Fools

We went into the weekend thinking Congress was finally on the verge of passing a substantially reduced Build Back Better bill, at roughly $1.75 trillion. Joe Manchin was likely more involved in that negotiation than any other member of Congress. He just held a press conference on the Hill in which he not only refused to support it but actually trashed the whole proposal in entirely new ways – now saying he can’t vote on any version of it until he learns more about what’s happening on inflation, gets a report from the CBO and other complaints. He demanded a vote on the so-called BIF and said he’s open to voting against the whole Biden reconciliation bill.

One other dimension to this is that Manchin’s announcement came just as Democratic leadership seemed on the verge on getting House progressives to believe that they had the outlines of a recon bill covered and thus vote for the BIF in advance of a recon bill. In other words, he was about to get what he has claimed to have wanted: passing the BIF bill before reconciliation and still having leverage to shape the reconciliation bill after the rest of the party has surrendered its leverage. The odds of that happening now seem close to nil.