Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Tuesday, Jan. 4, that he remains opposing President Biden’s massive social spending worth roughly $2 trillion, citing his concerns over the measure’s impacts on the already-high inflation.

Fox News reported the Democratic senator told reporters that he is not currently negotiating with Biden and Democratic leadership on the spending package called the Build Back Better Act. He surprised Democratic Party leaders last month by saying he could not support the legislation as written.

After reporters asked if there were any negotiations or conversations about compromise, Manchin said he did not know of any discussions.

“There’s been no conversations after I made my statement,” Manchin said, referring to the announcement against the Build Back Better Act he made before Christmas.

“I was very clear, I feel as strongly today as I did then that the unknown with COVID—here we are,” Manchin said. “So there’s different concerns that we have right now that we haven’t had for a while, so that’s a concern. Inflation is still a concern. It’s still over 6%.”

In his statement on Dec. 19, the West Virginia lawmaker announced that he could not back Biden’s massive package of social and environmental initiatives after months of negotiations.

Manchin also mentioned Biden’s hostilities with Russia as a more pressing, expensive issue facing America.

“These are all challenges, and this is all expensive challenges. So that’s where we are on that,” the senator said.

With a 50-50 split Senate at present, the Democrats would need all their votes to advance the measure over unanimous Republican opposition. 

Manchin said that he is open and willing to discuss policies, but that his views have been consistent, and he has not been meaningfully persuaded.

“I’ve never turned down talks with anybody. I really haven’t. I was very clear on where I stand, and I thought it was time to do that, rather than just continue on and on as we have for five and a half months. I haven’t changed from the first day when I talked to [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer on that,” he said.

Manchin admitted that the United States is divided and that he does not “intend to do anything that divides our country anymore.”

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