Last Updated on December 20, 2021
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia refused to take a call from the White House over his decision to torpedo President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, according to a new report.
Manchin made the announcement “Fox News Sunday.” Prior to going on the air, he had an aide tell the White House that he was going to tell the nation he would not vote for the Biden spending bonanza in any shape, size, or form, Politico reported.
Then came panic, according to Politico.
“We tried to head him off,” the outlet quoted what it described as “a senior White House official” as saying.
Manchin “refused to take a call from White House staff,” Politico quoted the official as saying.
Once on camera, Manchin sprung his news on acting host Brett Baier after talking about inflation, the debt, and COVID-19.
“So when you have these things coming at you the way they are right now, I’ve always said this, Bret: If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it,” Manchin said. “And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”
Baier, a little aback with what was taking place, had to make sure.
“You’re done? This is — this is a no?”
“This is a no, on this legislation,” Manchin said. “I have tried everything I know to do.”
The White House seethed.
Press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement accusing Manchin of breaking his word.
Psaki claimed that on Tuesday, “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,” the statement said.
“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.”
A “senior White House official” quoted by Politico said a deal might still be possible.
“Look, with Manchin, you never know,” Politico quoted that it said was the senior White House official. “I’ve never seen anything like this… The guy shook hands with the president. He made us a written offer on Tuesday that had holes but was doable. If he flipped away from that so quickly, maybe he can flip back.”
But Politico noted that after Sunday’s Manchin-blasting statement, the “relationship between the White House and Manchin is deeply frayed” and that in the statement “[e]ssentially, Psaki is calling Manchin a liar.”
Politico said someone it called a “senior Democratic aide” offered this comment after the statement came out bashing Manchin:
“Whoever at the White House who thinks it’s a good idea to go scorched earth needs to be fired… He’s the president. He’s supposed to be the adult,” the aide said.