White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was peppered with questions from reporters about the feud between the Biden administration and West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin.
During the press briefing, Psaki was grilled by several reporters about Manchin’s public announcement that he would not be voting for the Build Back Better Act, which effectively killed the multi-trillion-dollar bill.
Psaki characterized Manchin’s “no” vote as “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate.”
One reporter asked Psaki if Biden felt “betrayed” by Manchin’s decision.
“Does the President feel betrayed?” ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked.
“I think that our statement yesterday made pretty clear what we fee — what was the — the — the factual depiction of events that happened,” Psaki replied.
“Where do the lines of communication stand at this point between either the President & Joe Manchin? Or Joe Manchin & the White House staff, which he spoke about? Is there contact at all?” Vega pressed.
Psaki was not having it: “I’m just not going to assess or give you an update on specifics from here.”
.@CeciliaVega: "Where do the lines of communication stand at this point b/w either the President & Joe Manchin? Joe Manchin & the White House staff, which he spoke? Is there contact at all?"— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 20, 2021
Psaki: "I'm just not going to assess or give you an update on specifics from here." pic.twitter.com/miVE3v0PWY
Then, CNN’s Phil Mattingly asked about Manchin saying that White House staffers had been the ones to put out things that Manchin said were “absolutely inexcusable.”
“Do you know what he’s referring to there and do you have a response?” Mattingly asked.
Psaki again demurred and clearly was not happy about the question.
CNN's @Phil_Mattingly: "Manchin…said, 'this is staff…They put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is and that's it.' Do you know what he's referring to there & do you have a response[?]"— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 20, 2021
Psaki: "I don't. I would point you to Sen. Manchin[.]" pic.twitter.com/wuHqepwfqM
Psaki wasn’t off the hook at that point.
USA Today’s Joey Garrison asked Psaki if Biden would consider using executive action to implement parts of his Build Back Better Act package.
Psaki said that she had not spoken to anyone about a plan to move in that particular direction.
Playboy’s Brian Karem then asked Psaki about her statement from earlier in the briefing after Manchin had announced that he would not vote for the BBB package.
“You’ve already taken Senator Manchin to the woodshed, are you going to invite him back in the fold? Are you going to try to reach out to him?” Karem asked.
“Of course and we conveyed yesterday,” Psaki replied. “We will find a way.”
Brian Karem: "[T]o a drill down a little bit…moving forward, you've already taken Senator Manchin to the woodshed, are you going to invite him back in the fold? Are you going to try to reach out to him?— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 20, 2021
Psaki: "Of course & we conveyed yesterday that…We will find a way[.]" pic.twitter.com/pGtKB458fH
Psaki was then asked by a fifth reporter — Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich — about Manchin accusing other Democrat lawmakers trying to bully him into supporting the bill.
Heinrich asked: “On [Manchin’s] callout for Democrats for badgering him…is there any regret…about how this negotiation went, getting that statement from him and he feels he’s been badgered and beaten?”
“That…never has been our objective,” Psaki said.
JACQUI TIME: "Did the White House share the Thursday statement with Senator Manchin before it was put out & what was his reaction to that?"— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) December 20, 2021
Psaki: "I'm not going to detail private discussions or private sharing of statements in advance." pic.twitter.com/H4FUQdtH0Q
For his part, Manchin opposes the legislation now for the same reason he has all along: Pouring another couple trillion dollars of newly printed money will only make the bad inflation the country is experiencing now even worse.