White House says Manchin went back on his word

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) opposition to President Biden’s social spending package was “a breach of his commitments,” calling his reversal on the bill “inexplicable.”

“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,” Psaki said in a statement on Sunday shortly after Manchin told Fox’s Bret Baier that he was a “no” on the legislation.

It was the first time Manchin said firmly where he stood on the bill after months of wrangling with lawmakers and the White House to come up with an agreeable framework.

In a more than 700-word statement, Psaki said, “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.”

Manchin announced on “Fox News Sunday” that he would not vote for Biden’s climate and social spending bill, confirming, “This is a no on this legislation.” He cited concerns with inflation, the $29 trillion federal debt and a surge in new infections caused by the omicron variant of COVID-19 as reasons for his position.

Psaki said the White House will continue to press Manchin on the bill and see if he will “reverse his position yet again” and “be true to his word.”

She outlined times Manchin committed to Biden that he would support the Build Back Better framework, including at Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home weeks ago. Psaki said Manchin on Tuesday submitted a written outline for the bill that, while missing key provisions, led the White House to believe an acceptable framework could be achieved.

“Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith,’” Psaki said. “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.” 

Biden said in a statement last week that Manchin had reiterated his support for the $1.75 trillion spending bill. But the West Virginia Democrat distanced himself by the end of the week, telling reporters the optimistic statement was Biden’s and not his.

Psaki in her statement on Sunday argued against some of Manchin’s concerns with the package, citing a recent Penn Wharton Budget Institute report that said the Build Back Better Act will have no impact on inflation. She also fought against Manchin’s deficit concerns with the package, saying it is fully paid for.

“The Congressional Budget Office report that the Senator cites analyzed an unfunded extension of Build Back Better. That’s not what the President has proposed, not the bill the Senate would vote on, and not what the President would support. Senator Manchin knows that: The President has told him that repeatedly, including this week, face to face,” she said. 

Additionally, Psaki called his statement about climate provisions wrong, arguing that the bill instead will lead to a job-creating clean energy future. She said Manchin will have to explain why he supports the high cost of insulin and the end of the child tax credit program to families. 

“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 said.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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