Activists in kayaks and other watercraft protested outside Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) houseboat in Washington, D.C., on Monday, urging the moderate lawmaker to work with his colleagues to pass a massive budget reconciliation bill.
A small group of demonstrators with the groups Greenpeace USA, Young West Virginia, Race Matters WV, CASA, and the Center for Popular Democracy Action took to the waves outside the boat, the “Almost Heaven,” bearing banners reading, “No Climate No Deal,” and “Don’t Sink West Virginia.”
The protestors were targeting Manchin’s ongoing resistance to Democrats’ ambitious, multi-trillion dollar social and environmental package, a key part of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda that would dramatically increase funding to address climate change, spend billions on infrastructure and fund programs like free pre-K and dental for seniors.
“West Virginians have been trying to reach Sen. Manchin every way we know how to tell him we need this bill,” Loretta Young, the executive director of Race Matters WV, said in a statement. “79% of West Virginians want this bill! And yet, Sen. Manchin is still blocking it. He’s not listening to us, he’s listening to Big Money. That’s why we’re here at his yacht in D.C. today.”
Manchin has repeatedly pumped the breaks on his party’s effort, saying there is already enough spending through the end of the year and vowing that Democrats’ initial, $3.5 trillion figure was far too high. His stance has angered progressives and other Democrats, although the party has asked Manchin to tell them what provisions he wants to cut so they can move forward.
Democrats need all 50 members in the Senate to vote in favor of the bill as they have the slimmest of majorities in the chamber.
“What’s the need? There is no timeline. I want to understand it,” Manchin told Politico earlier this month about the legislation. “I don’t think anything runs out. Right now, we’ve got good nutrition for children, a lot of things are covered right now clear [into] next year.”
He added to the outlet that his opposition was merely a “pause,” not avowed opposition.
Greenpeace USA said in a press release Monday the protest was just the “first day” of a series of flotillas, touting Biden’s agenda as a “prime opportunity to kickstart a clean energy future.”
“Manchin needs to realize that the fossil fuel industry is about to keel over and we refuse to let it drag the rest of us down with it,” John Noël, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. “Congress cannot fall for big oil’s false choice between a healthy economy and a healthy planet.”
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