Joe Manchin Ambushed on His Yacht by Activists Demanding He Back Infrastructure Bill

Senator Joe Manchin was challenged over his resistance to backing the $3.5 trillion price tag of the Build Back Better package by activists who had kayaked to his houseboat.

Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema are the only two Democratic holdouts against the infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of the Biden administration.

Manchin has said that he would settle on a $1.5 trillion price tag for his party's plan, but this is still well short of the lowest number progressive Democrats want.

With no GOP backing, it requires all 50 Democrats in the upper house to get it through the reconciliation process.

Over the last few days, activists in watercraft have been protesting outside the West Virginia lawmaker's houseboat in Washington, D.C.

🚨BREAKING: Tonight, @Sen_JoeManchin emerged from his yacht for some real talk with the West Virginians who’ve been kayaking to his DC yacht every day this week!

And he invited them to come in for a meeting tomorrow/Monday latest!#DontSinkWV

🧵 pic.twitter.com/VYUhMxobPy

— CPD Action (@CPDAction) October 1, 2021

On Thursday, Manchin fielded questions about his stance from the stern of the vessel, called Almost Heaven.

In a video tweeted by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), one person questioned Manchin's resistance to the legislation's price tag, given that a Pentagon budget of $788 billion had been passed and that defense over 10 years cost over $6 trillion.

Manchin countered by asking the activist "how much do you think that we spend on non-discretionary, basically non-defense? Just as much," although someone shouted from the water, "not enough."

Manchin started to say, "let me give you one bit of information," before being interrupted by an activist who shouted to Manchin, "I've got one little bit of information for you.

"The Republicans are likely to take over the Senate, this is our one chance, right now to pass the legislation," the protester said. Another added that the Republicans are "not going to pass this for the people. They're not, this is our chance. We can't wait."

Elsewhere in the clip, Manchin said that "we're doing everything we can to create good opportunities," and when someone shouted "Tax the rich," he replied, "well, I agree with that," adding, "we are going to make the rich and the famous pay."

The demonstrators outside the senator's yacht this week have come from a number of groups, according to CPD Action.

These include Greenpeace USA, Young West Virginia, and Race Matters WV and have held up banners with messages like "No Climate No Deal," and "Don't Sink West Virginia."

Along with the video CPD shared, which as of Friday morning had been viewed around 500,000 times, was a tweet saying Manchin had "emerged from his yacht for some real talk with the West Virginians who've been kayaking to his DC yacht every day this week!"

In describing Manchin's boat as a yacht, the group was taking one definition of the vessel. His 2001-built vessel is 65 feet long, according to Coast Guard documents provided to PolitiFact. According to boats.com, any vessel "over 40 feet long almost always qualifies" as a yacht.

The CPD added in its tweet that he had "invited them to come in for a meeting tomorrow/Monday latest!"

Newsweek has contacted CPD and Manchin's office for comment.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) at Capitol Hill
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) at the U.S. Capitol on September 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Manchin will not support a social policy spending package over $1.5 trillion, while progressives want a $3.5 trillion price tag. Drew Angerer/Getty

UPDATE 10/01/21 10:34 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include the definition of a yacht.