White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday refused to accept the notion that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) poses roadblocks to President Biden’s legislative agenda, even after the centrist senator declared his opposition to the sweeping voting rights bill that the President himself vowed to “fight like heck” to get passed in the Senate.
After declining to read out any conversations between the President and Manchin, Psaki was pressed on whether the two are on the same page. Last week, Biden took aim at Sens. Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for their commitment to preserving the filibuster, following the Jan. 6 commission bill’s failure to pass in the Senate when Republicans killed the legislation by using the procedure.
Psaki told reporters the President and senior members of his administration are in “close touch” with Manchin about infrastructure negotiation as well as a range of other issues that they view as opportunities to work together.
Psaki added that she is “pretty sure” that Manchin is “pretty proud of his independent streak” and that the centrist senator made clear that he took no offense to the President’s comments last week.
After saying that Manchin probably appreciates the amount of attention that his home state is getting, Psaki was pressed on whether the President views Manchin as an obstacle to his agenda if the senator still refuses to nix the filibuster that allows no room for error in a 50-50 Senate.
Psaki replied that the White House is “not ready to accept” that analysis.
“I will say that the President considers Sen. Manchin a friend, he knows that they may disagree on some issues as they do on this particular piece of legislation,” Psaki said. “He’s going to continue to work with him, reach out to him, engage with him directly and through his staff on how we can work together moving forward.”
Psaki’s remarks were issued a day after Manchin declared his opposition to the House-passed For the People Act in an op-ed published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, which adds to the uphill battle that the sweeping legislation faces in the 50-50 Senate.
Along with dismissing the legislation his Democratic colleagues have pushed as “partisan,” Manchin made clear that he remains committed to preserving the filibuster that has stood in the way of moving Democrats’ agenda forward with its 60-vote threshold.
Manchin doubled down on his hopes for bipartisan compromise to push legislation through the Senate during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’m not being naive. I think (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is) 100 percent wrong in trying to block all the good things that we’re trying to do for America,” Manchin said. “It would be a lot better if we had participation and we’re getting participation.”
Watch Psaki’s remarks below: