WH Fears Manchin 'Will Run Out the Clock' on Biden's Legislative Wish List
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrives for a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies hearing on April 26, 2022, to discuss the Department of Justice's fiscal 2023 budget at the Capitol in Washington. (Greg Nash/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 08:40 PM
Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has been a thorn in the side of President Joe Biden's legislative wish list, and shaky relations between him and the White House are leading to fears he will "run out the clock" on Democrats' legislative agenda in a midterm election year.
"There's real fear inside the building that Manchin's stonewalling will run out the clock on Biden's legislative agenda throughout the rest of the year, leading the administration and congressional Democrats into November without anything else to offer voters," a White House adviser told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Sources told the Post there is a real fear Manchin is not going to agree with any deal on Biden spending before the midterms.
"The White House is throwing every iteration at him," a senior administration official told the Post. "But the relationship got to a bad place, in part because of tactics used on both sides."
There are talks between other Democrats and Manchin, but "nothing formal," Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon told the Post, adding that Manchin "is always willing to engage in discussions about the best way to move our country forward."
"I want to make sure y'all understand: There's no false hopes here," Manchin told reporters after a half-hour Tuesday meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying that any spending package would have to address inflation before the midterms.
"He remains seriously concerned about the financial status of our country and believes fighting inflation by restoring fairness to our tax system and paying down our national debt must be our first priority," Runyon told the Post in a statement.
The White House came out to tell the Post on Tuesday that the administration does not share Democrats' frustration.
"Anyone expressing those sentiments is not speaking for the White House," administration spokesman Andrew Bates told the Post amid reportedly icy relations. "Sen. Manchin's communications with us have been clear and in good faith.
"We do not comment on the specifics of our contacts with lawmakers, but are in touch with a wide range of members about a reconciliation package that will cut some of the biggest costs families face, fight inflation as well as climate change, and keep reducing the deficit at an historic pace."
Time is running out for Manchin to get on board with the White House and Democrats' legislative priorities, particularly on climate change items.
"This is now the time for Manchin to demonstrate he wants a deal of some sort by indicating exactly what would be acceptable to him," the Brookings Institution's Bill Galston told the Post. "The time for 20 questions is over.
"If he is serious about doing the deal, now is the time to do it."