Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday
he cannot back his party’s signature $2 trillion social and environment bill,
dealing a potentially fatal blow to President Joe Biden’s leading domestic
initiative heading into an election year when Democrats’ narrow hold on
Congress was already in peril.

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Manchin told “Fox News Sunday” that he
always has made clear he had reservations about the legislation and that now,
after five-and-half months of discussions and negotiations, “I cannot vote to
continue with this piece of legislation.”

The White House had no immediate comment.
Biden was spending the weekend in Wilmington, Delaware.

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The West Virginia senator cited a multitude
of factors weighing on the economy and the potential harm he saw from pushing
through the “mammoth” bill, such as persistent inflation, growing debt and the
latest threat from the omicron variant.

“When you have these things coming at you
the way they are right now, I’ve always said this … if I can’t go home and
explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” he said.

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“I tried everything humanly possible. I
can’t do it,” he said. “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried
everything I know to do.”

Though Manchin has been the Democrats’ main
obstacle all year to pushing the massive package through the narrowly divided
Congress, his declaration of opposition was a stunning repudiation of Biden’s
and his party’s top goal. A rejection of the legislation had been seen by many
as unthinkable because of the political damage it could inflict on Democrats.

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It is rare for a member of a president’s
own party to administer a fatal blow to their paramount legislative initiative.
Manchin’s decision called to mind the famous thumbs-down vote by Senator John
McCain, R-Ariz., that killed President Donald Trump’s 2017 effort to repeal the
health care law enacted under President Barack Obama.

Also Read: Manchin won’t support Biden’s $1.75 trillion plan after extended negotiations

Last week, Biden all but acknowledged that
negotiations over his sweeping domestic policy package would likely push into
the new year amid Manchin’s unyielding opposition. But the president had
insisted that Manchin reiterated his support for a framework that the senator,
the White House and other Democrats had agreed to for the flagship bill.