Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) on Monday dared Democrats to push him out of the party if they are unhappy with his views, one day after he announced he will not support President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda, effectively killing the bill.
Asked on Hoppy Kercheval’s West Virginia radio show if he believes there is still a place for him in the Democratic party, Manchin replied: “I would like to hope that Democrats feel like I do. I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate.”
“Now if there are no Democrats like that, they ought to push me where they want me,” he added.
During the interview, Manchin said he had gotten “to the wit’s end” with the negotiation efforts, saying the White House knows “the real reason” things fell apart.
White House staff “drove some things and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is,” he said.
“The bottom line [is] I knew that we could not change, it was never going to change,” Manchin added.
He reiterated that he warned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer months ago that there needed to be means-testing and work requirements for the child tax credit and that the bill was “very far-reaching.”
“We have been way far apart philosophically,” he added.
Manchin said he “just knew what the intent was from day one,” given that there are only two out of 50 Democrats — Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) — who did not support a $3.5 trillion price tag.
“This is a 50-50 Senate. You all are approaching legislation as if you had 55 or 60 senators or Democrats, and you can do whatever you want. Well, you know what, we’re all a little bit diverse. I said, I’m not a Washington Democrat,” Manchin said, adding that he’s from West Virginia, “not where they’re from.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki blasted Manchin on Sunday after he came out against the nearly $2 trillion legislation, accusing him of performing a “sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position.”
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Manchin said: “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.”
Psaki hit back, saying Manchin’s comments are “at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances.”
“Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced,” she said in a statement. “Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.’”
She added that Manchin visited the White House on Tuesday and submitted a written outline for the bill that was the “same size and scope as the President’s framework” directly to Biden.
“While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all,” she said. “Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground. 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.”
Less than 30 minutes before his appearance on Fox News, Manchin reportedly sent an aide to give the White House and congressional leadership a heads up on what he was about to do. He then refused to take a call from White House staff, Politico Playbook reported.
“We tried to head him off,” a senior White House official reportedly told Playbook, but Manchin “refused to take a call from White House staff.”
On Monday, Manchin said in response to the White House’s lengthy statement, “I figured they’d come back strong.”