Sen. Joe Manchin, one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers threatening to tank President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, has received at least $1.5 million in campaign donations from the businesses and trade groups leading corporate America’s lobbying blitz against the Build Back Better reconciliation package, a new analysis by Accountable.US reveals.
The watchdog group’s report, provided exclusively to Common Dreams, shows that corporate powerhouses including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the highest-spending lobbying firm in the U.S—and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America have donated a combined $1,525,700 to Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key swing vote who is currently working to lop as much as $2 trillion off his own party’s popular legislation.
“Senator Manchin knows big corporations managed to make billion-dollar profits despite the pandemic as everyday families fell further behind,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, told Common Dreams. “Manchin now has a golden opportunity to level the playing field for working people by backing investments and tax relief aimed at them for a change—investments that will lower health and childcare costs for most in West Virginia.”
“Rich corporations may have given Senator Manchin over a million reasons to avoid paying their fair share—but is it all worth it if he has nothing to show for the families he actually represents?” Herrig asked.
The Chamber of Commerce—whose members include such corporate behemoths as ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Facebook—has promised to do “everything in [its] power to ensure” the reconciliation bill fails. Earlier this year, the lobbying group said it would financially reward Manchin after he voiced opposition to some of Biden’s domestic policy initiatives.
According to Accountable.US, the Chamber’s political action committee has given Manchin $10,000 since 2011. Big corporations on the business organization’s leadership boards—including Shell Oil, Microsoft, and Honeywell—have donated a total of $565,700 to Manchin through their political arms, the watchdog group found.
Accountable’s report also spotlights campaign cash the West Virginia Democrat has received from the Business Roundtable—”whose board is stocked with CEOs from 12 corporations that have given $245,500 to Sen. Manchin”—and the National Association of Manufacturers, “which gave $7,500 to Manchin as its leading corporate members gave him $487,000.”
While Manchin has publicly been cagey about what specific programs he wants to cut from the emerging reconciliation package, recent news reports have indicated that the senator—a major ally of the fossil fuel and a coal profiteer—opposes some of Democrats’ green-energy proposals, Medicare expansion, and other elements of the sprawling reconciliation plan, despite their popularity in West Virginia and across the nation.
Last week, Axios reported that Manchin has been “telling colleagues that progressives need to pick just one of President Biden’s three signature policies for helping working families”—the expanded child tax credit, paid family leave, or child care subsidies—”and discard the other two,” an approach that progressives quickly rejected as a non-starter.
“Responsible governing isn’t about pitting women, children, and families against each other,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). “We have the resources to uplift everyone and leave no one behind. It’s absurd to say that we don’t.”