‘Systemic Reform’ Needed to Thwart Manchin’s Obstruction

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Source: Common Dreams

Photo by Stella Salander/Shutterstock


As some campaigners urged activists to intensify their organizing to counter U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s latest act of climate obstruction, a leading congressional progressive on Friday called for “institutional, systemic reform” to ensure one lawmaker can’t hold their party’s priorities hostage.

“Progressives have fought tooth and nail for the president’s and the Democratic Party’s agenda. Unfortunately, the senator from West Virginia has consistently worked to undermine it, blocking action on a number of priorities from child care, to housing, and now climate change,” Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said after Manchin (D-W.Va.) revealed he would not currently support any new climate spending or tax increases targeting the wealthy and corporations.

“His latest comments highlight the consequences of not taking climate action—and they are nothing short of catastrophic,” she continued. “Already, this single biggest crisis of our time is having devastating impacts on frontline communities, with West Virginia at the greatest risk of flooding of any other state in the country.”

Manchin reportedly informed Democratic leadership of his position during a closed-door meeting Thursday—and publicly reiterated his stance Friday—dealing a major blow to his party’s last-ditch effort to pass a limited reconciliation bill ahead of November’s midterm elections, in which Democrats are at risk of losing control of both houses of Congress.

According to The Washington Post:

Manchin essentially issued his party an ultimatum: They could accept a smaller deal this July focused on healthcare costs, or they could try again on a larger package once he has a chance to assess whether the economy has improved…

The demand immediately left Democratic lawmakers seething, as they charged that the pivotal moderate had once again thwarted [President Joe] Biden in what is a critical election year. Already, the party had abandoned its more audacious proposals to expand child care, education, and a wide array of poverty-fighting programs—only to face the reality that the concessions still weren’t enough to win Manchin’s must-have vote.

“The data continues to pile up: We are quickly running out of time to avert climate disaster,” Jayapal stressed. “It is simply untenable that one senator can dictate the course for the entire country, condemn future generations to life on a warming planet, and rob the United States of a chance to act as a climate leader on the world stage.”

The CPC chair called for “institutional, systemic reform,” including ending the “stranglehold of the Jim Crow filibuster,” passing laws “that will deliver for the working people of this country and meet the existential urgency of addressing climate change,” and instituting ethics and transparency reforms “to ensure that every member of Congress is working for the people, and not their own personal interests.”

In December 2020, Japayal and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reintroduced the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, an ambitious bill that, if passed, would overhaul campaign finance and lobbying rules, bar government officials from owning or trading individual stocks, and prohibit corporate board membership, among other reforms.

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