Sen. Joe Manchin, the centrist who tanked President Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation, blamed White House staffers for the collapse of negotiations. The West Virginia Democrat said Monday that Biden administration officials drove him to support provisions of the bill they knew he opposed and tacitly supported protesters badgering him on his Washington, D.C., houseboat and around the nation's capital.
“They drove some things, and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable,” Manchin told the Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval podcast on Monday. “They know what it is, and that’s it.”
Manchin also blamed Democrats for sending protesters after him “to beat the living crap out of people and think they’ll be submissive, period.”
Manchin did not provide Kercheval with details of the offensive actions by White House staffers. His revelation comes after months of talks with Biden and White House aides and ended with Manchin’s sudden declaration on Fox News Sunday that he will not vote for the $1.75 trillion social welfare and green energy spending bill.
Manchin’s decision essentially thwarted any chance of passing the bill unless Democrats change it significantly to win his support.
Democrats have been increasingly frustrated with Manchin for delaying passage of the bill, which they had hoped to send to Biden’s desk by the end of the year.
The measure would have created a broad array of new government programs and subsidies and would have implemented a clean energy agenda aimed at eliminating fossil fuels.
Manchin opposed the cost and key provisions in the legislation. He had been negotiating the bill with Biden regularly over the past few weeks, but many of the discussions, he said, were “staff-driven.”
Meanwhile, protesters and activists began targeting Manchin at his houseboat and in public settings to try to pressure him into voting for the bill.
Manchin blamed Democrats for urging on the protesters. And it backfired, Manchin told Kercheval.
“I'm not blaming anybody,” Manchin said, describing the collapse of the negotiations. “I knew where they were, and I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it because they figured surely that, God, we can move one person. Surely we can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable and that they'll just say, 'OK, I'll vote for anything.'"
Manchin added, "Well, guess what? I'm from West Virginia. I'm not from where they're from. And you just beat the living crap out of people and think they'll be submissive, period.”
The interview showed that Manchin stands far away from other Democrats on the Build Back Better legislation.
In addition to opposing the high cost, Manchin told Kercheval the measure must include work requirements for the generous new subsidies provided in the legislation, and he said tax credits should be targeted to lower-income people and families.
“Why are we allowing someone that makes $500,000 to get a discount on an electric vehicle?” Manchin said.
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Manchin said Democrats should instead focus on reforming the tax code, lowering prescription drug prices, and providing tax credits for children.
Democrats, however, plan just the opposite.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that when the Senate resumes in January, it will quickly take up the Build Back Better plan, even though it is doomed to fail because of Manchin’s objection. He took a jab at Manchin in his statement.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer said.