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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told a gaggle of reporters Tuesday that there have been “no conversations” about negotiating with Democratic leadership and President Biden on the massive social spending bill known as the Build Back Better Act.
Asked whether negotiations or conversations about compromise have been ongoing, Manchin denied any knowledge of BBB discussions after his statement last month against the policy package.
“There’s been no conversations after I made my statement. I was very clear, I feel as strongly today as I did then that the unknown with COVID – here we are. I’ve got an N-95, I see all of you do,” Manchin told reporters. “So there’s different concerns that we have right now that we haven’t had for a while, so that’s a concern. Inflation is still a concern. It’s still over 6%.”
The West Virginia Democrat announced Dec. 19 that after months of negotiations he determined that he could not support Biden’s massive social spending bill.
Sen. Joe Manchin walks past reporters after attending a lengthy Democratic Caucus meeting at the Capitol on Dec. 16, 2021.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The senator also mentioned President Biden’s ongoing hostilities with Russian President Vladamir Putin as a more pressing, expensive issue facing America.
“These are all challenges, and this is all expensive challenges. So that’s where we are on that,” Manchin said.
Asked if he still supported child tax credits for families whose income exempts them from income tax, Manchin stressed his belief that such benefits should be contingent on work.
“I’ve been basically very clear on that. I think there should be a work requirement. That means you file a 1099,” Manchin said.
Manchin stressed his openness to discussions and willingness to discuss policy, but emphasized that his views have been consistent, and he has not been meaningfully persuaded.
“I’ve never turned down talks with anybody. I really haven’t. I was very clear on where I stand, and I thought it was time to do that, rather than just continue on and on as we have for five and a half months. I haven’t changed from the first day when I talked to leader Schumer on that,” he recalled, referencing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“Our country is divided. I don’t intend to do anything that divides our country anymore,” Manchin added.
Former President Trump said Manchin is “saving” President Biden “from himself” by opposing the Build Back Better Act, saying if the measure passed, the country would be “a total disaster.”
“I think he’s saving Biden, because if they ever got that passed, this country would be a total disaster,” Trump told Fox News. “Already, inflation is so bad, it’s at a level that nobody’s really seen – nobody remembers for so long – Jimmy Carter was there, but I think this will end up being far worse than Jimmy Carter.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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