White House officials on Monday sought to stay the course in getting an infrastructure bill and a larger economic and social spending bill to President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE's desk after Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE (D-W.Va.) threatened to upend plans to hold a vote as early as this week.
While Biden is in Europe meeting with global leaders at a climate change conference, the West Virginia Democrat accused House progressives of holding the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate "hostage" while warning the tactics won't force him to commit to the separate $1.75 trillion spending bill before he is ready.
His comments could scramble the White House's push for a vote on both measures in the House as soon as possible. House Democrats had indicated a vote on both bills was possible as early as this week, but with progressives seeking a commitment on the social spending bill before voting on infrastructure, Manchin's comments may alter those plans.
White House officials on Monday sought to project calm, arguing Manchin's concerns would all be addressed by the framework laid out last week.
"Senator Manchin says he is prepared to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is fiscally responsible, and will create jobs. The plan the House is finalizing meets those tests—it is fully paid for, will reduce the deficit, and brings down costs for health care, child care, elder care, and housing," White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Joe Biden: The Brian Williams presidency Biden plan for free at-home tests faces hurdles MORE said in a statement. "Experts agree: Seventeen Nobel Prize-winning economists have said it will reduce inflation. As a result, we remain confident that the plan will gain Senator Manchin’s support."
White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainNew variant raises questions about air travel mandates White House scrambles for safety on holiday parties The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) MORE retweeted an NBC reporter who suggested the reconciliation bill addresses all of Manchin's requirements to avoid adding to the debt, curb inflation and boost the economy.
Klain also retweeted Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Alabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against Telehealth was a godsend during the pandemic; Congress should keep the innovation going MORE (D-Hawaii), who wrote that none of what Manchin said was new.
"The tone alarmed people, but substantively nothing has changed," Schatz tweeted.
We need a CBO score anyway, in order to process the bill through the Parliamentarian on the Senate side. None of what was said was exactly new. The tone alarmed people, but substantively nothing has changed.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) November 1, 2021
"Only one way to keep moving: Forward. Let's do this!" Emmy Ruiz, White House director of political strategy and outreach, tweeted.
Manchin called a press conference on Monday while Biden was in Scotland for a climate summit. He told reporters the House should immediately take up the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill while making it clear he's not yet ready to support a separate social and climate spending bill.
"The political games have to stop," Manchin said. "Holding this bill hostage is not going to work in getting my support for the reconciliation bill."
Manchin has been a sought-after vote in the Senate for the $1.75 trillion reconciliation framework, which includes funding for climate programs, efforts to expand health care access, child care credits and education programs.
As he exited a press conference in Rome on Sunday, Biden appeared to flash a thumbs-up when asked if he'd secured the votes of Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Green groups spend big to promote climate policy MORE (D-Ariz.), both of whom have publicly withheld their support for the reconciliation package.
But the White House quickly clarified Biden was signaling he was confident the bill would pass, not anything about the two senators.
With Biden in Europe, White House officials spent the weekend reaching out to lawmakers to press the case for passing both bills as soon as possible. Officials particularly highlighted how the bills would help provide clean drinking water to millions of Americans, connect scores of families to reliable internet and cut the cost of child care for millions of families.