“All I want for Christmas is a senator that has compassion for the American people and not contempt.”
BOSTON – Today, on CNN’s State of the Union, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) responded to Senator Joe Manchin’s announcement that he refuses to support the Build Back Better Act.
A full transcript of her interview is below, and video is available here.
Transcript: Pressley Responds to Manchin Announcement Refusing to Support Build Back Better Act
CNN’s State of the Union
December 19, 2021
JAKE TAPPER: Joining us now Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts. So, Congresswoman, you were right. Let’s get your reaction to the news of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he’s not going to vote yes, on Build Back Better.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: Jake, to be clear, my lack and deficit of trust was about Senator Manchin. He has continued to move the goalposts. He has never negotiated in good faith. And he is obstructing the President’s agenda, 85% of which is still left on the table. And in obstructing the President’s agenda, he is obstructing the people’s agenda.
I was listening to his interview earlier today and he said it’s a mammoth bill. You’re right. It’s a mammoth bill to address mammoth hurt.
You know, to lower the cost of elder care, childcare, prescription drug costs, the child tax credit, which is so critical in combating child poverty.
West Virginia, I believe is 7th in the country when it comes to child poverty. So by not advancing the Build Back Better Act, not only do we we fail to meet the needs of the American people, their mammoth hurt in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic and pandemic-induced recession. You know, not only that, but we’re going to put in his district, in his state, 50,000 more children at risk of going back into poverty, by not advancing the Build Back Better Act because the child tax credit is in that and it expired on Friday.
Moreover, in his interview, he spoke about inflation. We know that there is inflation because of the impacts of this pandemic. So the most responsible thing that we can do is to pass the Build Back Better Act. We cannot allow one lone senator from West Virginia to obstruct the President’s agenda, to obstruct the people’s agenda.
Jake, all I want for Christmas is a senator that has compassion for the American people and not contempt.
TAPPER: Well, you heard Bernie Sanders earlier in the program, saying that Senator Schumer, the Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, should bring the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote anyway and force Manchin to vote no, do you agree?
REP. PRESSLEY: I do. Absolutely.
TAPPER: Do you think President Biden, in telling progressives, and I realize you were one of the six who were skeptical not of Biden, but of Manchin. But do you think President Biden broke his promise? He said, I’ll give you my word as a Biden, we’re gonna get all 50 Democrats on board.
REP. PRESSLEY: This is about Joe Manchin, obstructing the President’s agenda, obstructing the people’s agenda. You know, torpedoing our opportunity to advance unprecedented advancements, to address the hurt that this pandemic-induced recession has caused, and to get this pandemic under control.
So if he’s serious about inflation, if he’s serious about the pandemic, if he’s serious about child poverty, then we need to advance the Build Back Better Act so that we can in fact build back better. This is 85% of the President’s agenda, which is still being left on the table.
Jake, that was not a vote that I took lightly, but I had great concerns, and I take no joy in those fears playing out in real time. That by decoupling these bills that we would cede all of our leverage, and that had everything to do with my credible concerns based on lived experience with Senator Manchin changing the goalposts continually.
TAPPER: Is there a strategy now to break up Build Back Better into smaller pieces and try to get 10 Republicans on board for some of them, for instance, paid family leave. Is there a way to get, for instance, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, just north of you, on board with a smaller paid family leave build that can get 60 votes in the Senate? Is that a strategy given the fact that it looks like Build Back Better is dead?
REP. PRESSLEY: Jake, this is all happening in real time. And I’m not one to cede defeat quickly, you know. So I remain focused on keeping the pressure up on Senator Manchin, the White House using the full weight of this presidency, to lean on this senator, to show solidarity with this Democratic Party and with the American people and to stop obstructing the President’s agenda, which is the people’s agenda. This is a mammoth bill to address a mammoth hurt. Let’s get it done.
TAPPER: Senator Sanders said just a few minutes ago, that this would create a stark difference in the 2022 midterms, where Democrats are on one side pushing for lower prescription drug prices. Child care, et cetera, the things that are in Build Back Better and Republicans opposing it. But I wonder if you think it might actually have the opposite effect of suppressing and depressing, progressive voters, younger voters, voters counting on some of the things in the Build Back Better Act and actually causing them to be disillusioned, disappointed and not turn out to vote in 2022, even more than Democrats normally do not turn out to vote in the midterms.
REP. PRESSLEY: Jake, it was a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of the most marginalized, Black, brown, AAPI, Indigenous, LGBTQ, disabled, who made this Democratic majority possible, many of them issues-based activists, championing the need for police reform, to dismantle mass incarceration, to combat the climate crisis, to actualize racial justice, to cancel student debt.
It is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to meet the needs of that most marginalized movement, which made this majority possible we run the risk of risking the majority, not by going big, but by playing small. So of course I have concerns about us not keeping our promises.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, thank you so much.