The White House lashed out at Joe Manchin on Sunday after the Democrat publicly said he is a ‘no’ on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better initiative after months of negotiations over the social spending legislation.
‘Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
‘Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced,’ she added.
‘Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.’
Less than 30 minutes before Manchin killed BBB, one of his aides was told to give the White House and congressional leadership a heads up, according to Politico.
At the time, Machin was preparing to go live for an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who was hosting his first Fox News sunday episode after Chris Wallace announced his departure last Sunday.
The mood at the White House following news from Manchin’s office was described by Politico as ‘panic and disbelief’.
‘We tried to head him off,’ a senior White House official said, claiming Manchin ‘refused to take a call from White House staff’ before the interview.
Manchin did not tell Baier of the news he was about to break on Fox’s network.
He definitely said Sunday morning he is against Biden’s BBB social spending agenda after Chuck Schumer pushed a vote on the legislation until after the New Year.
‘I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,’ the West Virginia Democratic senator told Fox News Sunday.
‘I just can’t,’ he continued. ‘I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.’
Manchin said: ‘This is a no.’
The senator told Fox’s Bret Baier: ‘This is a mammoth piece of legislation and I had my reservations from the beginning when I heard about it five-and-a-half months ago.’
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday that he can’t vote for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda – even after the New Year
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (left) released a statement Sunday indicating the administration was blindsided by Manchin’s remarks. She wrote: ‘Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President’
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI STATEMENT ON JOE MANCHIN REBUKE OF BBB
Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances. Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.’
On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted—to the President, in person, directly—a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities. While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all. Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.
Senator Manchin claims that this change of position is related to inflation, but the think tank he often cites on Build Back Better—the Penn Wharton Budget Institute—issued a report less than 48 hours ago that noted the Build Back Better Act will have virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures. Many leading economists with whom Senator Manchin frequently consults also support Build Back Better.
Build Back Better lowers costs that families pay. It will reduce what families pay for child care. It will reduce what they pay for prescription drugs. It will lower health care premiums. And it puts a tax cut in the pockets of families with kids. If someone is concerned about the impact that higher prices are having on families, this bill gives them a break.
Senator Manchin cited deficit concerns in his statement. But the plan is fully paid for, is the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years, and reduces the deficit in the long run. The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That’s not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face.
Likewise, Senator Manchin’s statement about the climate provisions in Build Back Better are wrong. Build Back Better will produce a job-creating clean energy future for this country—including West Virginia.
Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.
In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot.
We are proud of what we have gotten done in 2021: the American Rescue Plan, the fastest decrease in unemployment in U.S. history, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, over 200 million Americans vaccinated, schools reopened, the fastest rollout of vaccines to children anywhere in the world, and historic appointments to the Federal judiciary.
But we will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care—and to combat climate change. The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year.
Psaki said that Manchin changing his stance on BBB due to record spiking inflation is not valid.
Psaki wrote: ‘Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine. He will have to explain to the nearly two million women who would get the affordable day care they need to return to work why he opposes a plan to get them the help they need. Maybe Senator Manchin can explain to the millions of children who have been lifted out of poverty, in part due to the Child Tax Credit, why he wants to end a program that is helping achieve this milestone—we cannot.’
Democrats and progressives were immediately furious at Manchin for finally coming out against the legislation in full.
‘Well, I think he’s gonna have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia,’ Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning.
The independent Vermont senator called for a floor vote on BBB so Manchin is forced to ‘vote no in front of the whole world.’
‘The American people have got to understand what is at stake,’ Sanders said on CNN. ‘For decades what Congress has been doing, giving tax breaks to the rich, not standing up to the drug companies.’
‘The president of the United States and Democrats have been trying finally to address these issues,’ he added.
‘If Mr. Manchin doesn’t want to support us – well look, we’ve been dealing with Mr. Manchin for month after month after month,’ Sanders said. ‘But if he doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing for the working families of West Virginia and America, let him vote no in front of the whole world.’
Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, a part of the progressive ‘squad’, said she ‘absolutely’ agrees with Sanders on bringing a vote on BBB to put Manchin on the record about his opposition – despite him already admitting on national television that he will not support the legislation.
‘To be clear, my lack and deficit of trust was about Senator Manchin,’ Pressley told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union Sunday morning. ‘He has continued to move the goalposts. He has never negotiated in good faith. And he is obstructing the president’s agenda, 85 per cent of which is still left on the table.’
‘And in obstructing the president’s agenda, he is obstructing the people’s agenda,’ she added.
‘I was listening to his interview earlier today, and he said it’s a mammoth bill/ You’re right. It’s a mammoth bill to address mammoth hurt, to lower the cost of eldercare, child care, prescription drug costs, the child tax credit, which is so critical in combating child poverty.’
She accused Manchin of ‘obstructing the people’s agenda’.
Senator Bernie Sanders immediately condemned the remarks on Sunday, telling CNN: ‘Well, I think he’s gonna have a lot of explaining to do to the people of West Virginia’
In a statement on BBB released Sunday, Manchin wrote: ‘I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’
‘Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation,’ he said in an echo of his remarks on Fox News Sunday.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee responded to that part with confusion.
‘What exactly can Manchin not explain about lower-cost child care and tax cuts for parents, lower-price prescriptions and health care for families, and creating more high-pay jobs?’ PCCC questioned.
‘Anyone who cares about inflation or the impact of COVID on people’s lives should be eager to pass Build Back Better and give families needed health care and financial relief,’ the group added. ‘If Democrats don’t fulfill these super-popular promises, and lose in 2022, they will have Joe Manchin to thank.’
Speaking on the Senate floor on Friday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated the president’s Build Back Better bill (BBB) would be shelved until 2022 to give Biden more time to negotiate with Manchin.
‘The president requested more time to continue his negotiations, and so we will keep working with him, hand in hand, to bring this bill over the finish line and deliver on these much-needed provisions,’ he said without specifying a timeline.
Biden mentioned Manchin three times on Thursday in a statement admitting it was unlikely that Democrats would pass the $1.75 trillion social and climate reform bill before the end of the year.
‘In these discussions, Senator Manchin has reiterated his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September,’ he said.
‘I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition.’
After speaking with Biden multiple times last week, Manchin issued an icy dismissal of the president’s comments.
‘The president put out a statement. It’s his statement, not mine,’ he told Politico on Friday.
Democrats had hoped to stick to Schumer’s goal of passing the legislation by Christmas, but Manchin continued to voice issues with the expiring child tax credit.
‘I thought we had resolved that,’ progressive Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren also told the outlet.
Manchin, who along with Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have forced Biden to chip away at the bill’s original $3.5 trillion price tag, reportedly didn’t agree with using the legislation’s 10-year financing scheme to fund a one-year extension of the child tax credit.
But with his topline firmly set at $1.7, a longer extension would have only been possible if Democrats agreed to scuttle certain programs altogether.
Manchin snapped on Wednesday after reports his opposition to the Child Tax Credit killed Biden’s hopes for the Senate to pass the president’s signature Build Back Better bill by Christmas.
‘This is b******t. You’re b******t,’ the West Virginia senator yelled at a reporter who asked him about reports that the child tax credit has become a major sticking point in his talks with the White House.
‘I’m done, I’m done,’ Manchin fumed as the questions continued.
‘Guys, I’m not negotiating with any of you all. You can ask all the questions you want. Guys, let me go,’ he told the press as he walked through the basement of the Capitol, muttering ‘God almighty’ as he walked away.
Manchin is taking the blame from Democrats for the failure to move forward on Biden’s signature legislation.
The moderate Democrat has refused to support the BBB bill as it stands and, in a 50-50 split Senate, the president needs every single Democratic vote to get his agenda through.