Manchin Defends Build Back Better Decision, Fires Back at White House Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is followed by reporters as he leaves a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol Building on Dec. 17, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 20 December 2021 02:20 PM
Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., fired back at the White House on Monday, a day after President Joe Biden's press secretary slammed the moderate Democrat for saying he would not back the Build Back Better legislation.
Manchin told a West Virginia media outlet that Democrats erred in thinking they could pressure him into backing Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending and climate plan.
"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'll just say, 'OK, I’ll vote for anything just quit,'" Manchin told West Virginia's MetroNews "Talkline."
"Well, guess what? I'm from West Virginia. 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."
Manchin told "Fox News Sunday" that he cannot back Biden's signature legislation.
The White House then went on the attack, claiming Manchin betrayed his "commitments" to support the bill.
"Weeks ago, Sen. Manchin committed to the president, at his home in Wilmington, [Delaware] to support the Build Back Better framework that the president then subsequently announced. Sen. Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework 'in good faith,'" White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday.
"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."
During his Monday radio interview, Manchin said he was not surprised by Psaki's comments.
"They retaliated. I figured they would come back strong," he said.
Manchin said that he privately had told Democrat colleagues they should bring the social spending and climate bill up for a vote and see what happened.
"All of my colleagues are getting very frustrated," he told MetroNews. "I can understand that. And I said, gentlemen and ladies, it's time to vote … I can't guarantee anything upfront, just vote, you'll find out where I am."
Manchin was asked whether there remained a place for him in the progressive Democratic Party.
"I would hope there are still Democrats who feel like I do. I'm fiscally responsible and socially compassionate," Manchin told MetroNews. "If there’s no Democrats like that, they'll have to push me where they want me."