February 11, 2022
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that it may be time to rebrand the failed “Build Back Better” legislation by, among other things, renaming it, adding that President Joe Biden appears to be “open” to the idea.
“Sure,” she responded when asked if a name change was a possibility during her daily press conference.
The $1.8 trillion legislation, which the administration pushed for months last year, died after the president himself failed to convince two members of his own party to sign off on it. And while Manchin has signaled that he is open to discussing aspects of the measure, he recently declared the bill “dead” as a package.
While Manchin opposed the legislation from the outset, he nevertheless remained open to discussing it until December, when reports said he angrily denounced the legislation and the administration after Biden and Democratic leaders began attacking him when he would not hop on board.
White House staff had given Manchin a heads-up on Thursday that the president was soon to put out a statement accepting a delay in the Build Back Better Act and that it was going to mention the West Virginia senator by name. Manchin objected, asking that either his name be left out or that he not be alone because his family had already been the target of abuse and he didn’t want to be singled out.
But the statement went out anyway, and contained only Manchin’s name. The senator then snapped at White House aides and told them that he was done negotiating. The West Wing interpreted that as meaning that current talks were done but could pick up again next year.
But Manchin meant that he was totally walking away — which he said publicly a few days later on Fox News Sunday, in a move that blindsided and outraged the White House.
The senator appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and dropped the bombshell that he would not support the Build Back Better plan.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there” he said to host Bret Baier who was on after former host Chris Wallace stepped away from the show last week.
“You’re done – this is a no,” the host said.
“This is a no, on this legislation,” the senator said. “I have tried everything I know to do.”
“This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with. He knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it’s affecting our lives again,” he said.
Asked about the legislation again last week by a reporter, Manchin snapped: “What Build Back Better bill? It’s dead.”
In a column posted to the American Enterprise Institute website, senior fellow Marc A. Thiessen put the onus for the bill’s failure directly on Biden’s refusal to consider any Republican negotiating points, preferring to try and go it alone with just a thin Democrat majority in the Senate:
In June, after Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on an infrastructure framework, Biden threatened to veto the deal if Congress did not first pass his massive Democrat-only Build Back Better social spending bill. Then, he issued an extraordinary eight-paragraph statement walking back his veto threat, promising not to link the two bills. Then he broke his word and urged members of his own party to take the infrastructure bill hostage as leverage to pass Build Back Better.
Biden blames Republicans for his failure to pass Build Back Better. But what killed that bill was his failure to compromise with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and other like-minded Democratic lawmakers. Manchin explained the reason he decided to oppose the bill is that “it hasn’t shrunk.” Biden won’t compromise with his own party’s moderates, much less Republicans.