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Sen. Joe Manchin addresses reporters on Monday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday he won't be pressured into supporting a $1.75 trillion expansion of the nation's social safety net and urged House progressives to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in the interim.

Why it matters: Manchin's declarations — and the unusually strong language he used in making them — show Democrats are no closer to passing the two bills that House leaders had hoped to move this week, and President Biden has said will define his presidency.

  • "Holding this [infrastructure] bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill," Manchin said.
  • "As more of the real details of the basic framework [for the reconciliation bill] are released, what I see are shell games — budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount ... if you extended it permanently."
  • "While I've worked hard to find a path to compromise, it's obvious compromise is not good enough for a lot of my colleagues in Congress. It's all or nothing, and their position doesn't seem to change unless we agree to everything."

Manchin addressed reporters in a Senate briefing room as lawmakers returned to Washington after last week's frenzied activity surrounding both bills.

  • House progressives fear Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) will gut the reconciliation bill.
  • They've vowed to withhold their pivotal bloc of votes for the infrastructure bill unless senators either first pass the safety-net bill or give public commitments they'll do so.

In his remarks, Manchin said he has concerns about the bigger bill's effect on inflation and increasing the federal debt, so he wants more time to study its specifics and determine their precise cost.

  • "It's time our elected leaders in Washington — all of us — stop playing games with the needs of the American people and holding a critical infrastructure bill hostage."
  • "I'm open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward, but I'm equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country."

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the House plan "is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care and housing."

"Experts agree: 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Sen. Manchin’s support," she added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from Sen. Manchin and press secretary Jen Psaki.

Go deeper

Dem Senate candidates rally against “sellout” Sinema

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema enters the Democratic caucus meeting on Thursday with President Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate are now explicitly campaigning against one of their potential colleagues, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — branded by one as a "sellout" for opposing filibuster changes to enact party priorities.

Why it matters: It's an evolution of an increasingly popular strategy among Democrats: turning legislative inaction to their advantage by casting themselves as the "50th vote" for programs or the filibuster changes needed to pass President Biden's agenda.

Manchin says he won't support "perilous" filibuster rule change

Joe Manchin. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reiterated his stance against reforming the filibuster in a statement Thursday, saying, "I cannot support such a perilous course of action."

Driving the news: President Biden earlier in the day attended the Senate Democratic caucus lunch to make a case for reforming the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

Biden's epic failures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In the two months since signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, President Biden has by almost every measure bombed big time on the things that matter most.

The big picture: Biden, who marks one year in office next Thursday, has never been less popular nationally, after personally lobbying his party and the public on Build Back Better and voting rights — and failing.