Billionaire Republican backer donates to Manchin after he killed key Biden bill

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A billionaire Republican donor and Trump supporter donated the maximum allowed amount to Joe Manchin after the West Virginia Democrat sank Joe Biden’s signature domestic spending plan.

The Build Back Better plan sought to boost health and social care, and to help combat the climate crisis, at a price tag of $1.75tn.

Related: ‘He’s a villain’: Joe Manchin attracts global anger over climate crisis

Manchin, one of two key swing votes in the 50-50 Senate, used a Fox News Sunday interview in December to say he was finally a “no” on the legislation.

The move appeared to surprise Biden, and enraged progressives, but Ken Langone was presumably delighted.

The co-founder of Home Depot and author of a 2018 book called I Love Capitalism! had signaled his support for Manchin before the senator made his move on Build Back Better.

“I don’t see leadership any place in this country. Thank God for Joe Manchin,” Langone told CNBC in November. “I’m going to have one of the biggest fundraisers I’ve ever had for him. He’s special. He’s precious. He’s a great American.”

Manchin voted for Biden’s earlier Covid relief and stimulus package, as well as for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but helped to water down both.

In December, shortly after Manchin torpedoed Biden’s flagship legislation, Langone and his wife each gave $5,000 to Manchin’s Country Roads political action committee, CNBC reported. The amount is the most any individual can give in a year.

CNBC also listed donations from major corporations that saw Country Roads raise more than $150,000 more in December than it did in November.

Manchin is next up for re-election in 2024. As the only Democrat in major office in West Virginia, he holds outsized power in the evenly divided Senate – a position that would change if Republicans take back the chamber in November.

Langone has contributed to Democrats but predominantly supports Republicans. He backed Trump in 2016, and continued to support him while in the White House, though he chided him over the Capitol riot.

CNBC reported that Langone has recently made much larger donations than to Manchin, including $1m to a fund that works to defeat Democratic senators and half a million dollars to Americans for Prosperity Action, a group backed by the hard-right Koch family.

In his book I Love Capitalism!, Langone writes of his fear of socialism in the US, a fear stoked by the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Some young Americans, Langone says, think the US “should be headed toward something that, in my mind, resembles socialism: guaranteed income. Free college tuition. Single-payer healthcare.

“I disagree. Strongly.”

He also writes that he disagrees “not (as you might believe) because I’m a rich guy trying to hold on to my money. I disagree because socialism is based on the false notion that we should all be exactly equal in every single way.”

Neither Langone nor Manchin immediately responded to requests for comment.

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