Biden Will 'Work Like Hell' to Get BBB Past Congress After Manchin Killed Bill, Psaki Says

© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINPress Secretary Jen Psaki holds a media briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2021.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a media briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.12.2021
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Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of the Mountain State last week gave a very nasty Christmas gift to his colleagues and President Joe Biden by refusing to vote for the mammoth Build Back Better Bill, effectively burying dreams of getting it through Congress.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday claimed that the Biden administration is fully focused on pressing for his vision to address climate change, child care, health care costs, and other issues built-in the legislative piece which effectively failed to pass Congress before the year's end.
"He’s no stranger to legislative challenges, so we’re going to continue to take steps, work like hell to get it done," Psaki told reporters.
During the briefing, Psaki was also asked by a reporter about what message Biden would like to convey to the party's progressives, who repeatedly warned that internal opposition from party moderates would torpedo the bill, in order for them to stick with the president as the bill is expected to go to the Senate floor next month.
"His message would be, 'We need to work together to get this done,' and he's going to work like hell to get it done," Psaki reassured. "And January is an opportunity to do exactly that."
In addition to assuaging supporters of the bill, the press secretary discussed the relationship between Manchin and Biden, which supposedly has become deeply strained. She rejected reports of a personal feud between the president and the West Virginia senator, maintaining that the president regards the senator as a "longtime friend."
"I’m not going to relitigate the tick-tock of yesterday from here today," Psaki said. "I will say that from the president’s viewpoint … he’s worked with Mr. Manchin over the course of decades. They share fundamental values. They’re longtime friends. That has not changed."
However, the press secretary was also asked whether the administration figures there was a certain "misstep" in communication with Manchin, as earlier the senator put the blame on the White House for purportedly showing little willingness to compromise on an agenda that is important for the president.
"I can’t speak for Senator Manchin on what has upset him, I’ll let him speak to that himself," she replied. "All I can convey is that we continue to focus on how we’re going to get this done."
According to Bloomberg, which cited a source familiar with the situation, Biden and Manchin spoke on Sunday night after Manchin appeared on Fox News and stated that he "cannot" vote for the roughly $2 trillion economic agenda, and the White House believes the door has been left open to restart talks on the package.
Prior to his unexpected decision, about five days earlier, Manchin had reportedly privately pitched his own version of the legislation to Biden, which included revised revenue measures and ten years of nationwide pre-kindergarten spending, but not an extension of the increased child tax credit, one of the president's priorities.
A source claimed that Manchin's suggested revenue would not have been supported by all Democratic senators. The outlet noted that it remains unclear how Manchin planned to fund his version, although he has already advocated for rolling back former President Donald Trump's tax cuts, which Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, another Democrat with objections to the BBB bill, opposes.
Officials at the White House reportedly welcomed Manchin's counter-proposal as a reasonable starting point for further negotiations, noting in a statement released Thursday that the West Virginia senator remained committed to a plan of the same scale and breadth as Biden's.

Manchin's Personal Vendetta for Picking Him Out

However, Manchin was enraged that the statement mentioned him by name, according to The Hill's editor-at-large and Manchin's friend Steve Clemons, who stated in his column that both the senator and his party had agreed to refrain from finger-pointing as they negotiated on the legislation, but the statement that singled out Manchin by name and also discussed "fierce Republican opposition" was a strategic mistake.
"I know Manchin. He believes in civility above all things," Clemons wrote. "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 claimed it went so far as to put Manchin's family in danger, citing situations in which left-wing demonstrators harassed him about his position on the bill.
"Given the protests that Manchin’s family has experienced at his home, which is a boat in Washington Harbor — with folks harassing him, his wife and grandson by kayak around his boat and the gate to the marina — I knew this presidential statement was personalizing the game," he wrote. "It put his family at risk, in my view. Everyone knows Manchin and [Arizona Senator Kyrsten] Sinema are the two Democrats the White House must negotiate with because it has given up on Republicans — but to specify Manchin in a presidential statement meant the terms of the dealmaking had changed."
In a radio appearance on Monday, Manchin hinted that a disagreement with some of the president's staff had sealed the bill's fate.
"They know the real reason what happened," Manchin said, noting that his issue was not with the president. "It’s the staff. And they drove some things and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable."
The rejection of the West Virginia Democrat drew harsh condemnation from the White House and sparked a public dispute among Democrats over Biden's policy interests.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) walks between meetings at the Capitol in the midst of ongoing negotiations over the Build Back Better bill, which aims to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change, in Washington, U.S. December 14, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.12.2021
Everybody Hates Joe: Fellow Democrats Attack Manchin for Effectively Killing BBB Bill
According to US media, Biden's ability to salvage elements of his landmark legislation now hinges on restarting talks with Manchin and healing any tensions. In a 50-50 Senate, where Republicans are united in their opposition to the plan, the president cannot afford to lose even one vote, thus giving Manchin and every other Democrat a veto.
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