OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Build Back Better is dead and there was not anything in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech that was going to change that.
After the president’s address to both chambers of Congress and to the nation on Tuesday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin made it known that there was no way that agenda was going to be saved, The Hill reported.
The Democrat senator was asked by reporters about the parts of Biden’s speech that mentioned items on his Build Back better agenda and what he thought of him attempting to revive it.
“They just can’t help themselves,” he said.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he quipped.
“Nothing’s changed,” he said.
“There might be parts they want to talk about. I don’t know. That was a little bit far,” the senator said.
He also did not believe the president’s claims that his agenda would lower the deficit.
“I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” he said.
That answer prompted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who was walking alongside Manchin across the Capitol Rotunda and sat with Manchin during the address, to exclaim, “You can’t say it better than that.”
Manchin’s comments immediately raised serious doubts about whether Biden will be able to resuscitate his spending package, which stalled in December after months of negotiations.
Biden tried to appeal to Manchin, the only remaining holdout vote in the Democratic caucus, by arguing that his agenda will help offset the impact of rising prices by lowering the costs of middle-class families.
“One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” the president said in his speech.
“Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures. Top business leader and most Americans support my plan,” he said.
Not only did Sen. Manchin kill Build Back Better, again, but last month he declared that he would vote “no” on a key Biden nominee.
In this case, the West Virginia senator has said he will vote “no” on Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration, CNN reported.
But five Republicans joined with Democrats to block a filibuster on his nomination which means a vote by the entire Senate could come later this week.
“I will vote no on Dr. Califf’s nomination, and I have never been more profoundly confident of a vote I’m going to cast than I am right now,” the West Virginia senator said in a speech as he asked his fellow senators to “send a message to this administration, to our President, that we need a new direction at the FDA.”
“Dr. Califf has shown us who he is, and he has shown a complete lack of interest in actually making the difficult decisions that we need the leader of the FDA to make,” he said. “Nothing that Dr. Califf has said or done has led me to believe he will operate the FDA any differently than he did during his previous tenure.”
Califf, a longtime cardiologist, was last confirmed to run the sprawling agency during President Barack Obama’s final year in office by an 89-4 vote. Prior to running the agency, Califf served as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco. He was a professor of medicine and a vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at Duke University before joining the FDA. He was also the director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute and is the founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.
During his last confirmation process, Califf faced stiff opposition from multiple Democrats, including Manchin, who criticized his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
In November, when the nomination was announced, Sen. Manchin said that he was against him.
“Dr. Califf’s nomination makes no sense as the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on families across this country with no end in sight. 2020 was the deadliest year on record for drug-related overdose deaths with 1,386 West Virginians and nearly 95,000 Americans dying from a drug-related overdose. I have made it abundantly clear that correcting the culture at the FDA is critical to changing the tide of the opioid epidemic,” he said.
“Instead, Dr. Califf’s nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backward not forward. His nomination is an insult to the many families and individuals who have had their lives changed forever as a result of addiction. I could not support Dr. Califf’s nomination in 2016 and I cannot support it now. I urge the Administration to nominate an FDA Commissioner that understands the gravity of the prescription drug epidemic and the role of the FDA in fighting back against the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Championing the needs of our nation’s public health must be their number one priority,” he said.