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Climate protection: Coal senator signals red light

US Senator Joe Manchin (West Virginia) may be a member of the Democrats, but his election campaign is - among others - financed by the coal industry. His persistent veto of Joe Biden's 'Build Back Better' infrastructure package has kept US politics on tenterhooks for months. Has Manchin thus destroyed the president's domestic agenda?

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is taking a key role in the vote on US President Joe Biden's multi-billion dollar infrastructure package. The majority in the Senate is tight, with the Democrats needing every vote to get their laws passed. If one of the senators steps out of line, it causes gridlock.

This is what happened shortly before Christmas when, after months of negotiations, the 'Build Back Better' programme was finally voted on. With this package, Biden originally wanted to modernise the US, provide for more climate protection, improved infrastructure and more social justice. But nothing came of it - and Manchin does not give much hope that this could change soon.

He told CNN last week that the programme was "dead". Asked about the status of 'Build Back Better', he replied, "What Build Back Better bill? There is no, I mean, I don't know what you all are talking about." When asked by CNN if he had had any further discussions about a new proposal, Manchin said, "No, no, no, it's dead."

Manchin's opposition is putting Biden under increasing time pressure. Meanwhile, other policy items are on the agenda. Thus a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year must be passed by 18 February to avoid a shutdown. The BBB programme is therefore no longer a priority in Manchin's eyes. "My main concern is inflation. The high costs to everyone in my state and around the country I hear from. And also the geopolitical unrest we have in Ukraine. That's going to be a big cost, some sooner than later. And on top of that: Covid. We have to see which way Covid goes, and what affect its going to have on our economy. Those are still the driving forces," the senator said, according to CNN.

This makes it increasingly unlikely that the package will be passed, as mid-term elections are due in the US next autumn. The entire House of Representatives, a third of the Senate and numerous governorships will be newly elected - and according to current polls, the Republicans can hope for a majority in both chambers of the US Congress. In the Senate, the party currently lacks only one additional seat, in the House of Representatives it's five. Their win would mean the final end of the package.

Until then, however, the Democrats are likely to make attempts to pass at least parts of the programme. Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has announced his support: "When you have a proposal that has the overwhelming support of the American people, and it's addressing the long neglected crises facing working people, we cannot allow that to die. And if Mr. Manchin chooses to side with corporate America in this issue, that's his business. But for me, and I think millions of Americans, we have got to fight for the needs of working families."

Apparently, it has not yet sunk in with everyone that climate change will not tolerate delay.

Katrin Radtke
USA; Democrats, Republicans, Senate, Build Back Better, law, climate protection, climate change, infrastructure, package

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