The Biden administration had little to say Friday after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) put the brakes on a slimmed-down version of President Biden’s massive social spending plan, which has been stalled for months.
“As you’ve heard us say many times before, we’re just not going to negotiate in public as it comes to climate change and the president’s climate change plan and how he’s going to get there,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One en route to Saudi Arabia.
“The president has always been very clear that he’s going to use every tool in his toolbox, every authority that he has to make sure that we deal with the climate change – the climate crisis that we are currently in,” she added. “But as far as the negotiations, I’m just not going to say much more about that.”
Manchin reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week he would only support a new version of the plan, dubbed Build Back Better, if it was limited to addressing pharmaceutical prices and extending federal subsidies for buying health care coverage — and left out new environmental regulations and tax increases on corporations and high earners.
The lawmaker’s objections became known after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Wednesday that the annual rate of inflation reached 9.1% in June, the highest level since November 1981.
Manchin has warned that he would not support new spending that he sees as inflationary, and used that rationale to justify killing the original version of Build Back Better in December.
However, the West Virginia pol has left the door open to supporting smaller versions of the bill and has held off-and-on talks with Schumer for months.
When pressed on whether the White House believed Manchin was “on the level” in the ongoing negotiations, Jean-Pierre avoided mentioning the senator by name or providing details about the discussions.
“We’re going to continue to do the work and this is why, you know, this is why we feel that Congress needs to act,” she said. “We need to continue to push forward and lower prices for Americans when it comes to drug prices, when it comes to energy. And so we’re going to continue to have those negotiations and we’re going to continue to make sure that we call on Congress on that.”
This story is developing.