Senator Joe Manchin cryptically blamed White House staff for his opposition to President Joe Biden’s proposed Build Back Better legislation, in an interview with WV Metro News.
“I just got to the wit's end,” he told host Hoppy Kercheval on Monday. He added that the White House staff “drove some things and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”
Mr Manchin’s words came after he told Fox News on Sunday that he would vote against Build Back Better, which includes funding for an expanded child tax credit, child care, universal preschool, provisions to combat climate change and additional funding for in-home care for elderly people and people with disabilities.
“The bottom line [is] I knew that we could not change, it was never going to change,” he said.
The White House vocally criticised Mr Manchin’s position after he made the announcement, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying that the senator’s position was at odds with his previous position.
“Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word,” she said. “In the meantime, Senator Manchin will have to explain to those families paying $1,000 a month for insulin why they need to keep paying that, instead of $35 for that vital medicine.”
Mr Manchin, who represents a state where every county voted for Donald Trump last year, said he was concerned with the approach the president was taking.
“I said, ‘don’t you think we ought to take another approach?’ I said, ‘we’re in a 50-50 Senate. You all are approaching legislation as if you have 55, 60 Senators who are Democrats and you can do whatever you want,’” he said. “Well you know what? We’re all a little bit diverse.”
Mr Manchin said he represented the centrist and moderate wing of the Democratic Party that is compassionate but also reasonable. He added that he told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that there was no means testing for some of the social welfare programs like the child tax credit and questioned whether higher earners would need it as much as someone making between $50,000 and $70,000.
“Don’t you think that we could basically target that child, make sure the money follows the child so that if a grandparent’s raising the child, they’re getting the money and not the parent who, even though they’re biological parents, are not capable or not having the desire to even raise that child,” he said. “So we’ve been way apart philosophically.”
Mr Manchin added that the only reason he voted to allow for budget reconciliation was to roll back the tax cuts that Mr Trump’s administration and a Republican Congress passed.
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