Manchin says WH staff to blame for death of social spending bill

Manchin says WH staff to blame for death of social spending bill

Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday he ended up killing President Biden’s massive social and environmental spending bill because White House staff drove him to his “wit’s end.”

“It is not the president. This is staff,” the West Virginia Democrat told home-state radio host Hoppy Kercheval.

“And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”

Manchin continued: “I’m always willing to work and listen to try. I just got to the wit’s end and they know the real reasons what happened.”

He added that the “real reason” was the “staff-driven” process, before slamming Democrats and activist groups who tried to “beat the living crap” out of him to win his support.

“They figured, ‘Surely to 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 enough they will just say, “OK I’ll vote for anything, just quit.”‘ Well guess what?,” Manchin said. “I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can beat the living crap out of people and think they will be submissive.”

Joe Biden
Despite prolonged talks with President Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin said he was at his wit’s end with Democrats and was determined to vote “no” on the massive spending bill.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Manchin, whose vote was needed in the evenly divided Senate, told Fox News Sunday that he was a “no” vote on Biden’s multitrillion-dollar Build Back Better Act.

The centrist Democrat said for weeks that he was concerned about the measure’s effect on high inflation and warned that budget “gimmicks” had obscured the true cost of the package — with costs being spread over fewer years than the revenue streams meant to offset them.

The House passed the package last month with a $2.2 trillion price tag. But the Congressional Budget Office said earlier this month the plan would cost about $4.5 trillion — and add $3 trillion to the federal deficit — if its programs were extended over 10 years, the same period as the proposed revenue streams.

Senator Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin drew flak from several progressive Democrats after deciding to vote against Biden’s massive spending bill.
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Although Biden engaged with Manchin via phone and even hosted him at his Wilmington, Del., home on at least one occasion, there were protracted additional talks involving White House staff. The White House director of legislative affairs is Louisa Terrell, but other senior West Wing aides have prominent roles in brokering legislation, including Biden counselor Steve Ricchetti.

Democrats hoped to pass the bill using special budget reconciliation rules, but they could not lose a single vote in the evenly divided Senate.

The House-passed version includes $555 billion for environmental programs and would have established federal funding for all states to provide preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. It also would have capped child care costs at 7 percent of income for most families and extended an enhanced child tax credit for families earning up to $150,000 from $2,000 to $3,000 per child — or $3,600 for those under 6.

White House
Several of the talks included White House director of legislative affairs Louisa Terrell and counselor Steve Ricchetti.
Shutterstock / Andrea Izzotti

Manchin sought to restrict the child tax credit increase to benefit only lower-income families. He griped that his own relatively poor state had set up universal preschool without federal aid and also opposed a provision that would have federally subsidized four weeks of paid private-sector family leave.

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