Administration

White House on Biden and Manchin: ‘The door remains open’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday deflected away from hammering Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) after her fiery statement condemning the West Virginia Democrat following his announcement that he would not vote for the president’s Build Back Better agenda.

Psaki told reporters “the door remains open” on the prospect of parts of the framework moving forward. But she declined to address follow-up questions on what broke down in the negotiations and on Manchin accusing the White House of miscalculating him by thinking he could be pressured into backing the plan.

“I can’t speak for Senator Manchin on what has upset him. I’ll let him speak to that himself with more specifics, if he chooses to and he may or may not choose to, and that’s his prerogative,” Psaki said when asked if there was a misstep on the part of the administration when it came to negotiating the behemoth trillion-dollar package.

Manchin didn’t criticize Biden during an interview Monday, adding that he was always “willing to work and listen and try” but said he was at his “wits’ end” after he suggested White House staff had leaked negative information about him.

Despite the back-and-forth, Psaki reiterated throughout the briefing that the president and Manchin remain friends. 

“The door remains open. The president considers him a longtime friend, someone who’s worked with on a range of initiatives and objectives, over the course of the last several years that they’ve known each other and that’s really where we’re coming at this from,” she said.

When asked if the president still thinks Manchin is negotiating in good faith, Psaki said, “he has said that from the beginning he continues to consider him a friend. And obviously our statement yesterday about the events of the last few weeks I think speaks for itself.”

Psaki’s statement on Sunday outlined times Manchin committed to Biden that he would support versions of a Build Back Better framework, including at Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home weeks ago, and said Manchin recently submitted a written outline for the bill.

Psaki wouldn’t give an update on the next time the president and Manchin would be in contact and said she would keep private updates on their engagements.

“Of course,” Psaki said when asked if the White House will try to reach out to Manchin again, adding that the White House “absolutely” wants to keep working the senator.

Manchin on Monday accused the White House officials of retaliating against him by claiming that he backtracked on commitments he made to Biden that despite lacking some key provisions, could have led to agreements on a framework.

Psaki called her statement “a statement of facts, of the events of what happened over the last few weeks, and it was simply an effort to make that clear to the American people.”

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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