Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made it clear Monday that he was not backing down on his promise to vote on President Joe Biden’s massive Build Back Better spending package.
Manchin told anchor Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday” that he was a definite “no on this legislation,” prompting outrage from many in his own party — but he followed that appearance with a Monday morning radio interview doubling down on his position and reaffirming that he would not be bullied into changing his mind.
Joining West Virginia Metro News’ “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval,” Manchin said that the distance between his position and that of others within his party had proved to be too far, adding, “We’ve been way far apart philosophically.”
Manchin told Baier on Sunday that he could not vote for anything that he believed would worsen inflation — which he said West Virginians were already feeling across multiple aspects of their everyday lives — but that he also could not justify a vote for anything he could not go home and explain to his constituents.
His position, he reiterated during the Monday radio interview, had not changed from the outset.
“I knew where they were and I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it because they figured, surely to God we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up, surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough,” Manchin continued. “Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from, and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.”
Manchin has remained firm in his call for a bill that tops out at $1.5 trillion, consistent not only with his public statements but with an agreement he reached in July with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
As Phil Kerpen noted in a tweet, “Reminder, Manchin and Schumer signed an agreement in July, then Democrats spent five months disregarding every provision of it and somehow thinking they could bully Manchin into going along.”
The White House responded to Manchin’s confirmed “no” vote in a blistering statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki that accused the West Virginia Senator of reversing his position and breaching commitments — both to President Biden and to fellow Democrats — with regard to continued negotiations on the bill.
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.
Psaki concluded the statement with a promise that the White House would continue to put pressure on Manchin and would not give up the effort to pass Build Back Better.
In recent weeks, Manchin has been harassed on several occasions. In one case, protesters rowed out to confront him at his houseboat, and in another, they surrounded a car he was driving in a parking garage.