President Joe Biden campaigned as a moderate candidate who would work to restore unity to a deeply divided nation, though a number of his actions in office appear to undermine that promise.
According to one new book, the president twisted the arm of moderate U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) with a vulgar remark while lobbying him to vote in favor of a COVID-19 stimulus bill.
“If you don’t come along”
For his part, Manchin has regularly advocated for bipartisanship, which has threatened to stymie partisan plans pushed by Biden and others in his party.
As the president sought to bolster support for his American Rescue Plan, he allegedly made it clear to Manchin that his opposition was not appreciated.
According to The Daily Wire, in a phone call, Biden reportedly told the West Virginia Democrat: “If you don’t come along, you’re really f*****g me.”
Journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa chronicle the reported interaction in their new book, Peril.
Manchin had criticized the bill as too generous with unemployment benefits. Following some last-minute negotiations, the nearly $2 trillion legislation was ultimately passed along partisan lines through a process known as budget reconciliation.
Biden builds on divisive agenda
Biden hopes to use the same reconciliation process to muscle through his latest $3.5 trillion agenda without the support of GOP lawmakers. Of course, that plan would require all 50 Democratic senators to be on board — and Manchin has not yet committed.
In addition to Manchin, Biden has also indirectly blamed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for holding up his costly spending proposal.
Both moderate senators have refused to vote to get rid of the Senate filibuster, which leaves the Biden administration with limited options to advance measures addressing immigration, voting rights, and various social issues.
Despite hailing his agenda as the largest investment in the social safety net in generations, Biden does not seem interested in debating the matter — even with members of his own party.
In addition to allegedly issuing a profanity-laced warning to Manchin, he has continued to embody a shifting definition of unity as he pursues his agenda on a number of other fronts, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, he has picked fights with GOP governors over COVID-19 restrictions and sought to scapegoat millions of unvaccinated Americans.