White House refuses to say whether Biden is engaging with Manchin on $1.75 trillion spending package

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday refused to say whether President Biden has been in touch with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. about his opposition to the president’s $1.75 trillion spending package. 

Asked about less-expensive Build Back Better proposals endorsed by Manchin, Psaki said: “I’m just not going to get into private discussions or conversations with any members of the Senate from here. I know that’s maybe a change, but we feel that’s the best way that this is going to work to get this done.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on December 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

During an appearance last month on “Fox News Sunday,” Manchin said he had spoken with Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., but could not reach an agreement on the Build Back Better Act.

“I’ve done everything humanly possible,” Manchin said at the time, adding that he “cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.”

Psaki said Biden will speak to senators to move forward with the agenda “in the weeks ahead” but refused to say whether Biden would “engage” with Manchin.

Manchin told a gaggle of reporters Tuesday that there have been “no conversations” about negotiating with Democratic leadership or Biden on the spending package.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) delivers remarks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. November 1, 2021.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

“There’s been no conversations after I made my statement, he said. “Inflation is still a concern. It’s still over 6%.”

Psaki noted the Democrats’ “slim majority” in the Senate and highlighted the importance of having support from each Democrat in order to get the legislation to the president’s desk to be signed.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4 in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Included in the current measure is a one-year extension of the child tax credit program, which provides monthly payments of $300 per child under 6, as well as $250 for children under 18 to two-parent households earning less than $150,000 and single-parent households making less than $112,000.

“The president sees, and recognizes, and values the contribution of the child tax credit and what it did to … prevent 40% of kids from being in poverty last year,” Psaki said. “It’s something that he advocated for, he introduced, and he called for himself — so he absolutely wants to see an extension of the child tax credit.”

Manchin reportedly gave the White House a counteroffer regarding the spending package that excluded the extension of the credit.

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