Dec 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Harris: "Stakes are too high" for Build Back Better to be about Manchin

Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday dismissed Sen. Joe Manchin's sudden and fervent opposition to the Biden-Harris administration's Build Back Better agenda, saying she refuses to get caught up in "what might be personal politics."

State of play: "The stakes are too high for this to be in any way about any specific individual," the vice president told Margaret Brennan, host of CBS' "Face the Nation," as part of a wide-ranging interview that will air across the network's platforms throughout the week.

  • Asked whether she feels betrayed by the West Virginia Democratic senator's move to likely tank the centerpiece of his party — and this administration's — legislative agenda, Harris said: "This is about 'let's get the job done.'"

Between the lines: President Biden has not publicly responded to being blind-sighted by Manchin.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki released a blistering statement on Sunday afternoon in which she called out Manchin for pledging "repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework 'in good faith.'"
  • The White House appears to have decided the vice president's approach should be to minimize the senator's overall importance to the path forward. It's unclear whether this messaging strategy can be translated into legislative reality.

The bottom line: There's still no obvious avenue to passing the $1.75 trillion spending measure.

  • Manchin and Biden spoke Sunday after negotiations unraveled, leaving a possibility talks could resume next year.
  • But the senator also seemed to double down on his opposition to the legislation on Monday and remained noncommittal on whether he could potentially get behind a scaled-down version of the measure.
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