Dec 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Manchin blames White House staff for failed negotiations


Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday blamed White House staff for the breakdown in negotiations over President Biden's Build Back Better agenda and doubled down on his commitment to tanking the bill.

Why it matters: One day after he sent the Democratic Party reeling by announcing he will not support the $1.7 trillion package, Manchin leaned further into his opposition to the bill, making clear he has no plans of reversing course.

  • He was, however, noncommittal on whether he could potentially get behind a scaled-down version of the measure.

Driving the news: "This is not the president, this is staff," Manchin told West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval in a 14-minute MetroNews radio interview Monday morning.

  • "I just got to the wit's end," he said, adding that White House staff "drove some things and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is."
  • "The bottom line [is] I knew that we could not change, it was never going to change."

What he's saying: Manchin also said if Democrats want to try to tackle a smaller package, they would need to put new legislation through committees and hold hearings on the programs.

  • He also criticized leadership's strategy, arguing they wrongly assumed "surely we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person up."
  • "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 said.
  • Manchin also said he made clear to Democratic leadership that he disagreed with its approach of treating legislation "as if you have 55 or 60 senators that are Democrats, and you can do whatever you want."
  • "I said, 'I'm not a Washington Democrat,'" Manchin told Kercheval.

Asked about whether there is still a place for Manchin in the Democratic Party, Manchin said: "I would like to hope that there's still Democrats that feel like I do."

  • "I'm fiscally responsible and socially compassionate. Now if there are no Democrats like that, they ought to push me where they want me."

The bottom line: Manchin made clear in his lengthy interview that he is far apart from the rest of the party when it comes to not only the Build Back Better package but on how far-reaching certain legislation can be.

  • The interview reinforced that any attempt by the party to fulfill their promises of passing sweeping social and climate reforms will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, with Manchin standing in the way.
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