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‘Does The President Feel Betrayed?’: Press Corps Peppers Psaki With Questions On Dustup With Manchin
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House December 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded several questions about Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-WV) announcement over the weekend that he will not support the Biden administration's social spending bill. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the topic of much discussion at Monday’s White House press briefing, where several reporters from multiple outlets asked press secretary Jen Psaki to weigh in on Manchin’s public announcement that he would not be voting for the Build Back Better Act.

Manchin publicly declared his intent to vote “no” on the behemoth social spending package — effectively killing the bill where it stood — during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” with host Bret Baier, and the White House responded quickly with a scathing statement accusing the West Virginia Senator of acting in bad faith and of being dishonest in his negotiations.

Psaki referred to Manchin’s promised “no” vote as “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.”

At the press briefing, several reporters brought up the situation between Manchin and the White House, asking whether President felt “betrayed” by Manchin’s decision and whether or not Psaki knew of any plans to move the bill forward in the coming weeks.

“Does the President feel betrayed?” ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked.

“I think that our statement yesterday made pretty clear what we fee — what was the — the — the factual depiction of events that happened,” Psaki replied, alluding to her statement.

“Where do the lines of communication stand at this point between either the President & Joe Manchin? Or Joe Manchin & the White House staff, which he spoke about? Is there contact at all?” Vega pressed, but Psaki demurred: “I’m just not going to assess or give you an update on specifics from here.”

CNN’s Phil Mattingly asked about Manchin as well, specifically about the Senator’s claims on a Monday radio show that White House staffers had been the ones to put out things that Manchin said were “absolutely inexcusable.”

“Do you know what he’s referring to there and do you have a response?” Mattingly asked.

Psaki side-stepped that question as well, referring Mattingly to Manchin if he wanted an answer.

USA Today’s Joey Garrison pivoted slightly to ask whether Biden might consider implementing parts of the Build Back Better Act via executive action, but Psaki said that she had not spoken to anyone about a plan to move in that particular direction.

Playboy’s Brian Karem brought the topic back to Psaki’s scathing statement, issued just hours after Manchin announced his intent to vote “no.”

“You’ve already taken Senator Manchin to the woodshed, are you going to invite him back in the fold? Are you going to try to reach out to him?” Karem asked.

“Of course and we conveyed yesterday,” Psaki replied. “We will find a way.”

Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich noted Manchin’s comments about Democrats who had attempted to bully him into changing his position on the spending package, asking, “On [Manchin’s] callout for Democrats for badgering him…is there any regret…about how this negotiation went, getting that statement from him and he feels he’s been badgered and beaten?”

“That…never has been our objective,” Psaki said.

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