The White House accused Sen. Joe Manchin of going back on his word to President Joe Biden after the West Virginia Democrat announced he could not support the Democrats’ proposed social spending and climate bill, the Build Back Better Act.
“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a long, heated statement on Sunday after Manchin publicly announced his opposition to the bill.
Psaki said Manchin had pledged his support for a framework of the bill in person to Biden at the president’s home in Delaware. Manchin on Tuesday also gave Biden an outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the president’s, she noted.
“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 added. “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.”
The sharp tone of the statement is unusual. For months, the White House refrained from commenting on negotiations with holdout senators like Manchin. When asked about his repeated gripes about the bill, spokespeople for the Biden administration disagreed politely and offered fact-based arguments rebutting the claims.
It’s unclear whether Manchin’s opposition to the legislation closes off the possibility of some sort of deal on a narrower package, but the knives coming out between the two sides suggests the fate of Build Back Better as it stands now is over.
Manchin essentially pulled the plug on the bill in an appearance on Fox News on Sunday.
“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” he told host Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a no.”