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Protesters form flotilla outside Joe Manchin’s ‘yacht’ over opposition to reconciliation package

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Left-wing protestors assembled on Monday to express their dissatisfaction with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) opposition to the Democrats’ multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation package.

Arriving in houseboats and kayaks of their own, representatives from Young West Virginia, Race Matters WV, Center for Popular Democracy Action, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Greenpeace USA protested outside of Manchin’s houseboat in Washington, D.C.

They held signs that read “Don’t sink West Virginia,” “Manchin pass the bill,” “BBB brings jobs to WV” — referring to Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda — and “No climate no deal.”

The ostensibly moderate senator has cautioned his colleagues in Congress to “pause” deliberations on the spending bill and, at one point, reportedly said Democrats should hold off on discussions for the package until 2022.

“We don’t have an urgency. Don’t you think we ought to debate a little more, talk about it, see what we got out there?” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier in September.

“We don’t have the need to rush into this and get it done within one week because there’s some deadline we’re meeting or someone’s going to fall through the cracks,” he added.

“I want to make sure that children are getting taken care of, that people are basically having an opportunity to go back to work,” he continued. “We have 11 million jobs that we haven’t filled, 8 million people still unemployed. Something’s not matching up there.”

His resistance, however, has drawn the ire of hard-line progressives who are advocating for the price tag of the package to remain as originally proposed, and for the legislation to be passed before they vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“We’ve got 5.4 out right now,” Manchin continued, referring to spending bills that have already been passed but that not all monies have been dispersed to the various programs they fund. “It’s going to be a lot more than 3.5 over eight-to-ten years,” he added, because “it’ll continue — a lot of these programs never come off” of future budgets.

Greenpeace USA wrote in a  statement that Manchin has “repeatedly tried to drop anchor on this critical deal to protect his own fossil fuel and corporate interests,” adding “It’s time to put the interests of working class Americans, for whom this important investment in roads, bridges, health care, safe drinking water, and clean energy is a matter of life or death, first.”

The organization said the gaggle of boaters joined together “in a celebration of unity in their support for much needed investments into healthcare, climate action, and jobs in the Build Back Better Act.”

Greenpeace USA also said that Monday was the first day of flotilla protests outside Manchin’s houseboat, suggesting that more demonstrations could come in the future.

“In West Virginia, it’s no secret that we need jobs, we need healthcare, we need to get ahead of the transition to clean energy, we need lower prescription drug prices. And the reconciliation bill provides for all that at no cost! It’s paid for by taxing the rich and big corporations, and letting Medicare negotiate drug prices,” Takeiya Smith, executive director of Young West Virginia, said in a statement.

“This is the moment to deliver a historic package to West Virginians and all Americans, and we need Sen. Manchin to move it forward, not hold it back. We’ve been in the streets and in his offices in WV, and now we’re here in DC, at his yacht, to tell him to listen to his constituents. Pass this bill,” she demanded.

Frank Webster

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