Sen. Joe Manchin offered to support a $1.8 trillion version of President Biden’s Build Back Better spending package that included 10 years of universal pre-K, an expansion of ObamaCare and billions to fight climate change, according to a report.
However, the proposal from Manchin (D-WV) was rejected because it did not include an expansion of the federal child tax credit that the White House has touted as greatly reducing the child poverty rate and has made a linchpin of its economic agenda, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The West Virginian’s offer was made just days before a massive falling-out between Manchin and White House officials, leading to the senator going on “Fox News Sunday” to announce he could not support the Build Back Better Act — dealing a possibly fatal blow to the legislation.
Manchin, who holds a crucial vote in the 50-50 Senate, told host Bret Baier that he had reservations about the effects Build Back Better would have on inflation, the national labor shortage and legislative gimmicks that would have increased the national debt.
In a Monday morning radio interview with West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin said constant pestering by White House staff to get him on board with the measure left the senator at his “wit’s end.”
“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,”‘” Manchin said.
“Well guess what? 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,” he added.
According to the Washington Post, Manchin’s proposed version of the legislation would have funded universal pre-K for a decade. The current version of the bill has a sunset date of 2027 for that provision. Manchin also reportedly told Biden he would support spending as much as $600 billion on climate change initiatives, despite representing a state that is a major producer of coal. Details of Manchin’s proposal for an expansion of the Affordable Care Act were unclear, according to the outlet.
The White House issued a sharply worded statement after Manchin’s announcement Sunday, accusing him of not negotiating in “good faith” and claiming his comments “are at odds with his discussions this week with the president, with White House staff and with his own public utterances.”
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki offered a cooler response.
“Sen. Manchin had a strong statement yesterday and we had a strong statement as well. And we’re ready to move forward and get this done and work like hell to do that — with Sen. Manchin, with members of the Democratic caucus across the Democratic Party, and that’s our focus moving forward. But that was the basis of our calculus yesterday,” she told reporters at a White House briefing.
Steve Clemons, a confidant of Manchin and editor-at-large of The Hill, said the final straw came when the White House released a statement last week specifically naming Manchin as the one responsible for the delay in finalizing the legislation.
”When I saw Manchin’s name in the presidential statement, I knew he would perceive it as a breach of process, a breach of spirit, a breach of Joe and Joe working this out so that politicians from Scranton and Charleston could find a way to align with those from Brooklyn and San Francisco,” Clemons wrote in The Hill.
Clemons confirmed that Manchin had problems getting behind Build Back Better because of other challenges facing the Biden administration.
“With inflation sky high (6.8 percent nationally, 9 percent for producers), with 175,000 Russians on Ukraine’s border making global energy markets skittish and with omicron wiping out the delta variant as it infects Americans with accelerating speed, Manchin just wasn’t on board with the Build Back Better (BBB) package amid so much uncertainty and economic anxiety,” he wrote.