Sen. Joe ManchinRep. Pramila JayapalJayapal told him she gave an earful Monday morning by Senator (D-Wash.).

It was followed by a call Manchin’s announcement in a Fox News interview on Sunday that months of negotiations with the White House over the terms of the massive Build Back Better budget reconciliation package had reached an impasse and he “can’t” support the landmark legislation.

“I do believe the president when he said to us, and to me personally, that he got a commitment from Senator Manchin or [Manchin] would have to go back on his word,” Jayapal told reporters on a Monday afternoon press call. “And obviously yesterday, the senator took the latter path and went back on this word. That lack of integrity is stunning in a town where people say the only thing that you have is your word.”

Jayapal said that Manchin also told her the same thing when they called Monday.

“There is nothing I have said here that I didn’t say to him,” Jayapal said. “And you will remember that I have not said anything against him all these months, because I believed he was negotiating in good faith.”

“I certainly wish I didn’t have to say this now,” she added. “But we need to tell the truth about where we are and why.”

Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (D-Wash.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal also defended her decision not to permit a vote to continue on the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Jayapal’s frank revelation about her remarks to Manchin are the latest instance of senior Democrats’ frustrations with Manchin spilling into public view.

White House released a similarly scathing rebukeManchin was referring to West Virginia Senator Manchin’s comments on Sunday, which implied that Manchin wasn’t willing to negotiate a budget reconciliation bill that President Joe Biden would like to use to fund transformative policies and a climate safety net.

“Senator Manchin’s comments this morning on FOX are at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Jayapal’s comments also mark an admission that House progressives’ strategy of trying to force Manchin’s hand had fallen short.

Jayapal is the leader of Congressional Progressive Caucus, which he has been leading since 2019. turned the left-leaning blocPerhaps for the first time ever, House Democrats became a united fighting force. She streamlined the caucus’ membership rules to ensure a stronger level of ideological commitment and consolidated power under a single chairperson.

“We have trusted for too long that Sen. Manchin was engaging in good faith.”

– Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

Jayapal was able to leverage the power that she had accumulated, despite Democrats having a slim majority in each house of Congress.

After Biden let a handful of centrist Senate Democrats and Republicans, including Manchin, negotiate an infrastructure bill separate from the rest of Biden’s agenda, Jayapal threatened to kill the billIn the House, Manchin and the other Democratic holdouts did not provide firm assurances that they would support the Build Back Better package. The threat she made delayed the vote on infrastructure legislation for over a month and prevented its passage.

Late October saw the White House released a “framework”The Build Back Better legislation, which it claimed had been the result of negotiations with Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Silena (D-Ariz.), among other members of Congress. To this day, Jayapal considers the release of the “framework” as the product of House progressives’ tactical hardball.

Manchin was born a few days later. put out a lengthy statement saying he’d “heard a lot of mischaracterizations of my position” and that he wouldn’t support Build Back Better “without knowing how this bill will impact our debt, our economy and our country.”

But Manchin didn’t contradict Biden or say he would never support the bill. At the time, his main concern was with progressives refusing support for the infrastructure bill without an agreement on the Build back Better bill. Holding up infrastructure was Jayapal’s leverage over Manchin.

Then, in the aftermath of Democrats’ electoral losses in Virginia and New Jersey, Jayapal dropped her opposition to a vote on the infrastructure bill in the House and ended up voting for the bill herself. White House assured Jayapal that it had received promises from Manchin and other centrist Democrats that the Senate would take up Build Back Better if official cost estimates met the senators’ expectations.

But it didn’t work out. Manchin has continued to complain about the bill’s cost and impact on inflation, and in recent days has also said he’s worried about COVID-19 and “geopolitical unrest,” namely threats from Russia and China.

Given Manchin’s frequently evolving comments on the Build Back Better package, Jayapal said she still believes Biden when he said that Manchin had pledged to support it.

“Either the president did not have a commitment or the senator made a commitment and went back,” Jayapal said. “And I believe the president when he says he had a commitment, so that is why I think we should not rely on the senator’s word.”

Despite her harsh assessment of Manchin’s approach, Jayapal said she remains open to negotiating a deal that would result in passage of key components of the Build Back Better framework, though she would not entertain additional hypothetical compromises.

In the meantime, however, she is calling for the White House to move forward with executive actions to speed up the country’s transition to renewable energy, and reduce the burden of college student debt.

“There is a very powerful tool in the president’s ability to take executive action. And I think that that tool has to be exercised,” she said. “We have trusted for too long that Sen. Manchin was engaging in good faith.”

There are some progressives believeJayapal would never have agreed not to withdraw support for the bipartisan Infrastructure bill. Six of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ most left-wing members, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), voted against the infrastructure bill in November. Ocasio-Cortez cited Manchin’s Sunday announcement as a validation of her doubts, quipping on Twitter that “maybe” skeptics of her vote at the time will “believe us next time.”

Jayapal however, made Monday’s defense of her decision not to seperate the bill on infrastructure from Build Back Better. She argued that Manchin would have sink the latter regardless.

“Had we not passed the infrastructure bill, I actually think that that would have been the day that the senator said, ‘The Build Back Better Act is done,’” she said. “I think he would have walked away.”


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