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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.

Go deeper

Arkansas Senators: Don't bust filibuster

Sen. Tom Cotton; Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images. Sen. John Boozman; Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Both of Arkansas' Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton made statements this week in defense of the chamber's filibuster rule.

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

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker