Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia responded on Monday to a strongly-worded White House statement that denounced him for declaring his opposition to the Democrats’ Build Back Better social spending and climate bill.
“Basically, they retaliated. I figured they would come back strong,” said Manchin on Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.
After the West Virginia Democrat announced on Fox News Sunday that he was opposed to the Democrats’ $2.2 climate and social spending bill, the White House issued a lengthy missive that was critical of the senator.
“Senator Manchin promised to continue conversations in the days ahead, and to work with us to reach that common ground,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in the statement. “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.”
Manchin reportedly informed the White House of his decision just 30 minutes before his Fox News spot, refusing a call from them as they sought to talk Manchin down from his position. And CNN reported that President Joe Biden, who has sought to persuade the conservative Democrat to support the bill in recent months, personally signed off on the subsequent White House statement.
“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,” Psaki said in the statement. “In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine.”
Other Democrats reacted angrily to Manchin’s statement, and the fate of a bill central to Biden’s domestic agenda now hangs in the balance. With the House having passed its own version of the bill in November, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged on Monday to bring the bill up for a vote in the upper chamber “so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” he said.
Manchin, for his part, seemed mostly unperturbed when Kercheval asked about the White House statement and Democratic anger towards him.
“They figured, surely to God, we can move one person, surely we can badger and beat one person, that’s — surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough,” said Manchin, referring to the waves of protest that he’s encountered from progressive activists in recent months.
“Well, guess what? I’m from West Virginia,” he said. “I’m not from where they’re from, and they can just beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive. Period.”
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