The head of the House Progressive Caucus said Monday during a phone call with reporters that President Biden should just go around Congress altogether to implement “Build Back Better” after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said on Sunday he couldn’t support the bill because he believes trillions more government spending will worsen already bad inflation.
“I want to start this conversation with a clear-eyed look at how we got to where we are,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said on a media call on Monday, per the Washington Examiner.
“It started almost eight months ago when the White House decided to split the president’s Build Back Better agenda into two bills, leaving the majority of the agenda, even beginning negotiations, until the early fall,” she added.
“Either the president did not have a commitment, or the senator made a commitment and went back. And I believe the president when he says he had a commitment,” Jayapal said.
“We’ve mentioned climate, and, you know, specifically around fossil fuels. We’ve mentioned student loans,” Jayapal continued. “We need to run that through our process.”
“[N]o one should think that we are going to be satisfied with an even smaller package that leaves people behind or refuses to tackle critical issues like climate change,” Jayapal noted during her conference call with the media, The Hill .
“That’s why it is now incumbent on President Biden to keep his promise to us and to the American people by using the ultimate tool in his toolbox of executive action in every arena immediately,” she said.
The Washington Democrat said she planned to launch discussions with Progressive Caucus leaders on Monday and with the White House later in the week.
“At this point, we should not wait for that legislative path for the president to take action. I just think if there are too many Americans hurting, there’s too much at stake … We have trusted for too long that Sen. Manchin was engaging in good faith,” Jayapal said, suggesting that Biden should use executive powers to implement provisions of his measure, bypassing Congress — though it’s not clear which provisions she was referencing or where Biden would get funding for them.
“I am not willing to hang my hopes and the futures of millions of Americans across the country on whether or not he will do what he said he would do yesterday, which is often different from today or tomorrow,” she claimed.
“Whatever costs the senator claimed to be concerned about it will cost exponentially more to act later, after the damage has occurred both in dollars and in humans,” Jayapal said.
“We cannot pass up our singular opportunity to address the scope of this crisis.”
The West Virginia Democrat “went back on his word that lack of integrity is stunning in a town where people say the only thing that you have is your word,” Jayapal claimed to the press.
“According to the White House’s statement yesterday and my own conversations with the White House yesterday, it is abundantly clear that we cannot trust what Sen. Manchin says,” she added.
“The senator called me this morning; I took his call. And there is nothing I have said here that I didn’t say to him … We cannot hang the futures of millions of Americans on the words of one man who represents a state that has a tiny percentage of the country’s entire population.”
The Hill added:
Asked about Jayapal’s push for unilateral action, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters she wasn’t aware of it being under discussion but noted that Biden hasn’t shied from using executive action “to make a range of progress.”
“The benefit of legislation is obviously that it makes it permanent,” Psaki said.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin told anchor Bret Baier he had made an earnest effort to reach agreement with the White House.
“I’ve done everything humanly possible. And you know my concerns I had, and I still have these concerns,” Manchin said, noting how his constituents in West Virginia were already feeling the negative effects of inflation.
“It’s real, it’s harming every West Virginian, it’s making it almost — difficult for them to continue to go to their jobs. The cost of gasoline, the cost of groceries, the cost of utility bills, all of these things are hitting in every aspect of their life and you start looking at — then you have the debt that we are carrying at $29 trillion, you have also the geopolitical unrest that we have. You have the COVID, the COVID variant, and that is wreaking havoc again, people are concerned.”
“You’re done? This is a no?” host Bret Baier asked.
“This is a no on this legislation,” Manchin repeated, adding, “I have tried everything I know to do and the president has worked diligently, he’s been wonderful to work with, he knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had and — you know, the thing we should all be is directing our attention towards the variants, the COVID that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects and different ways, it’s affecting our lives again. We have inflation that basically could harm — really harm a lot of Americans and especially those who are most needy and having a hard time struggling right now.
“So I think that’s where attention needs to be directed towards immediately — and this is been going on for five and a half months,” he said.