Today, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced that he will not President Joe Biden’s (D) proposed Build Back Better legislation in an appearance on FOX News Sunday, being guest-hosted by FOX contributor Bret Baier in the absence of Chris Wallace, who left the network just this week.
The White House confirmed they were only informed of Manchin’s sudden decision, by messenger, after several months of negotiations Manchin and out Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) had with Biden and Senate Democrats to deliver the bill through the equally-divided Senate. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement on behalf of the President, who is still in Delaware after recognizing the anniversary of his first wife and daughter’s deaths.
“Less than 30 minutes before” his appearance on the conservative news channel’s Sunday morning show, Manchin told an aide to notify the White House and members of his own party about his massive, sudden decision, Politico reports. An official at the White House told the outlet’s Playbook newsletter reporters that they placed a call to Manchin. “We tried to head him off” they said.
Manchin “refused to take a call from White House staff,” they revealed.
On air, Manchin went on a lengthy diatribe complaining about the potential inflation and amount of debt potentially caused by the proposed legislation, which was chief to President Biden’s social and environmental agenda, and the agenda to his entire presidency overall.
Then, he finally said it: “I mean, from all different spectrums of the political spectrum, if you will, from the right to the left. I’ve done everything humanly possible,” Manchin claimed on air. “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.”
Psaki issued an official statement from the White House shortly after. Lengthy but blunt, Psaki went into detail about Manchin’s apparently misleading remarks to them and other members of Congress in the last few weeks.
“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,” the statement began.
“Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith,'” Psaki pointed out.
Then, she noted: “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,” seemingly detracting from Manchin’s claims earlier today. “While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.”
Psaki wasn’t done there, either. “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.”
She noted that the Penn-Wharton Budget Institute, “the think tank [Manchin] often cites on Build Back Better” regarding the potential for inflation, said “less than 48 hours ago” that long term, “the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures.”
Psaki also pointed out all the costs the proposed bill could save millions of Americans across the country, namely through child care, health care, reduction in pharmaceutical taxes, and credit toward other tax cuts as well. She denounced his claim that the Build Back Better bill would add drastically to any deficit because this is “the most fiscally responsible major bill that Congress has considered in years.”
Then, Psaki delivered the biggest dagger in her written remarks: “Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word.”
Politico stated, “Essentially, Psaki is calling Manchin a liar.”
Psaki concluded by offering solace to disappointed constituents and lawmakers: “We will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care—and to combat climate change. The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year.”
She and the White House then posted the statement on Twitter without further comment.
Watch parts of Manchin’s FOX appearance below, and some of the reactions around the country.
"This is a no on this legislation" — On Fox News Sunday, Manchin announces he won't vote for the Build Back Better bill. Game over. pic.twitter.com/p0rCu4kl7M
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 19, 2021
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 19, 2021
The first line in @PressSec’s new statement sums it up:
“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.”
She also said the WH will find a way forward.
— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) December 19, 2021
Wow — I’m glad to see the gloves are finally off!! Thank you, @POTUS!
— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) December 19, 2021
Thanks, Jen. I have to say I love you for that, in the most wholesome way possible. Thanks for straightening the record. I am aghast that Manchin would go back on his word. Where and when I grew up, your word was your bond and if you made a commitment, you carried through.
— Lemer Bevan (@BrownLemur2) December 19, 2021
So Joe Manchin will not be attending the White House Christmas party! This is a blistering White House take down of his lying. He’ll enjoy Mar-a-Logo. https://t.co/UdAL0npN63
— John W. Dean (@JohnWDean) December 19, 2021
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) December 19, 2021
Excellent statement from WH on Sen. Manchin's betrayal this morning. Hard to have a hot take on this debacle without using expletives, but the bottom line: Manchin and his special interests cannot have the final word.
We regroup, fight harder, and find a way to get this done. https://t.co/4WYMXly7Ox
— Rep. Jared Huffman (@JaredHuffman) December 19, 2021
"We will not relent in the fight to help Americans with their child care, health care, prescription drug costs, and elder care—and to combat climate change. The fight for #BuildBackBetter is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year." https://t.co/gkHzJDUyYY
— SEIU (@SEIU) December 19, 2021