Newly released details about negotiations that took place between the Biden White House and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) suggest the president’s Build Back Better deal really is dead and buried in Washington.
According to a new report from The Washington Post, at this point, Manchin wouldn’t even be willing to support a counteroffer that he himself sent the president before Christmas.
Heading into the 2021 holiday season, Democrats were working feverishly to see the sweeping spending bill, backed by Biden and establishment Democrats on the Hill, passed into law. Standing in their way, however, was Manchin, who claimed the lofty legislative package was too costly.
Democrats were attempting to pass the bill using budget reconciliation, meaning they needed only a simple majority in the Senate. But even under that process, Dems in the upper chamber still needed all 50 members of their caucus on board — and that includes Manchin, a moderate Democratic lawmaker who has long been a thorn in progressives’ sides.
Negotiations between Manchin and the White House on the Build Back Better package were apparently ongoing for weeks. But in a shock move just before Congress recessed for Christmas, Manchin denounced the bill and said he wouldn’t support it.
“If I can’t go home and explain 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,” Manchin told Fox News, according to The Hill.
“I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” he added.
The future ahead
Infighting ensued, with the Biden White House arguing that Manchin went against his word. Meanwhile, reports claimed those close to the senator said he felt the Biden administration was putting his family at risk by putting the blame for the legislative package’s failures solely on his shoulders.
Now, it looks like Manchin isn’t willing to come back to the negotiating table at all. Citing three people familiar with the situation, The Washington Post reported Saturday:
The week before Christmas, Sen. Joe Manchin III sent the White House a $1.8 trillion counteroffer to President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that included substantial funds for climate, health care and education initiatives.
“About four weeks later,” the Post added, “the West Virginia Democrat has made clear that he does not currently support advancing even that offer.”
The Post went on:
Privately, [Manchin] has also made clear that he is not interested in approving legislation resembling Biden’s Build Back Better package and that Democrats should fundamentally rethink their approach. Senior Democrats say they do not believe Manchin would support his offer even if the White House tried adopting it in full — at least not at the moment — following the fallout in mid-December.
Biden and his team really shot themselves in the foot on this one.