Manchin undercuts claims of unity on $1.75T bill: 'White House knew exactly where I stood'

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Sen. Joe Manchin III on Tuesday accused the White House of jumping the gun when unveiling the compromise framework for President Biden‘s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill.

Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said he had never signed off on the framework, despite assertions otherwise from White House officials.

“I’ve been here long enough to know that when you say you signed off on things,” said Mr.Manchin. “You [have] to keep your word and I’m not going to be a liar or make anyone else a liar so that’s why I hadn’t.”

A key swing vote for Mr. Biden‘s legislative agenda, Mr. Manchin argued that at the time the compromise was announced there was still disagreement between himself and the president.

“The White House knew exactly where I stood,” he said. “There were a couple of concerns that we had that we needed to work through.”

His comments came one day after he upended negotiations over the spending bill. At a Capitol press conference, Mr. Manchin made a full-throated attack on his party’s far-left faction for linking the social welfare bill to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

“The political games must stop. As you’ve heard, there are some House Democrats who say they can’t support this infrastructure package until they get my commitment on the reconciliation legislation,” he said. “Holding this bill hostage won’t work to get my support for the reconciliation bill.”

He backed up his criticism, claiming that far-left Democrats were also engaged in “shell games, budget gimmicks” on the larger spending bill, the full cost of which hasn’t been scored yet by the Congressional Budget Office.

Last week, Mr. Biden announced after months of delay, he had the basis for a deal. The $1.75 trillion “compromise framework” fell far short of the $3.5 trillion that far-left Democrats initially proposed.

Dropped from the package were plans to expand Medicare, provide free community college and a federal guarantee of paid family leave for every worker.

Mr. Biden made the concessions in hopes of bringing on board moderate Senate Democrats, namely Mr. Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Since Democrats plan to push the package through Congress in party-line votes using budget reconciliation, a process allowing spending measures to pass the 50-50 Senate by a simple majority, Mr. Biden can not afford any disunity.

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