Manchin gives thumbs down to Biden's $1.75 trillion investment bill

  By Jan Wolfe and Trevor Hunnicutt 

  WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is key to President Joe Biden's hopes of passing a $1.75 trillion domestic investment bill, said on Sunday he would not support the package. 

  "I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation," Manchin said during an interview with the "Fox News Sunday" program. "I just can't. I have tried everything humanly possible." 

  A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

  Manchin has been a key holdout on the White House's "Build Back Better" plan, which aims to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change and is the cornerstone of Biden's legislative agenda. 

  The West Virginia senator's support is crucial in a chamber where the Democrats have the slimmest margin of control and Republicans are united in their opposition to the bill. 

  Biden said last week after talking with Manchin that the senator had reiterated "his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September." The Democratic president had vowed to press in the coming weeks to finalize a deal. 

  Though talks with Manchin had been going poorly, Biden’s aides expressed confidence in recent days that they would eventually secure a deal. 

  Many Democrats feel passage of the bill is essential to the party's chances of maintaining control of Congress in next year's elections. 

  The package would raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for a host of programs to thwart climate change, boost healthcare subsidies and provide free childcare. 

  Biden has argued that lowering such costs is critical at a time of rising inflation and as the economy recovers from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans say the proposed legislation would fuel inflation and hurt the economy. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Paul Simao) 

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