West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin responded Friday to criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., derisively declaring that he wasn’t going to take marching orders from a socialist.
“Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs,” Manchin wrote in a statement. “No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that.”
Sanders had penned an op-ed calling for every Democrat to support President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
“Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation,” Sanders wrote in the op-ed for Charleston Gazette-Mail. “Yet, the political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote ‘yes,’ We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin.”
Manchin said Sanders has “no relationship to the state,” adding that his remarks do not mark the “first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them.”
“Millions of jobs are open, supply chains are strained and unavoidable inflation taxes are draining workers’ hard-earned wages as the price of gasoline and groceries continues to climb,” Manchin stated, accusing Sanders of trying to “throw more money on an already overheated economy while 52 other Senators have grave concerns about this approach.”
In his op-ed, Sanders, who has repeatedly pressured Manchin to help pass Biden’s agenda, described the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act as “a historic opportunity to support the working families of West Virginia, Vermont and the entire country and create policy which works for all, not just the few.”
Sanders held press conferences targeting Manchin and Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for their lack of support for the agenda, saying the both of them must speak clearly about what they want out of spending negotiations.
“Will all Democrats stand together to protect the interests of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor?” Sanders asked in the piece. “Will all Democrats stand together to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, and wealthy campaign contributors? I certainly hope so.”
Sanders initially proposed a $6 trillion infrastructure plan, later saying that it was “probably too little,” and that the current $3.5 trillion social spending package “should be a minimum.”
“The $6 trillion that I originally proposed was probably too little. Three and a half trillion should be a minimum. But I accept that there’s going to have to be give and take,” Sanders said earlier this month.
Sanders could not immediately be reached for comment.
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