The West Virginia's senator's abrupt move was a sharp break from the White House and it infuriated progressives, who had reluctantly agreed to advance the bipartisan infrastructure deal earlier this year believing that Biden would be able to secure the votes needed to pass the Build Back Better bill in the Senate in short order. Manchin's split with his party underscored how the fissures within the Democratic caucus have often paralyzed their effort to deliver for voters. And while some progressives tried to rally their colleagues on Sunday not to lose hope and to press forward with negotiations to fashion the bill in a different form, the debacle illustrated how the loss of one vote in the 50-50 Senate could derail what Democrats have viewed as their best vehicle for creating tangible improvements in voters' lives before the 2022 elections.
Biden campaigned on the promise that he would be able to build consensus in Congress and end the pandemic, but Manchin's defection could further undermine voters' confidence in the President's ability to lead. The moderate Democratic senator explained Sunday that even after months of prolonged talks with Biden -- who he said was "wonderful to work with" -- he could not overcome his concerns that the nearly $2 trillion bill would aggravate inflation when Americans are reeling from rising prices everywhere from the grocery store to the gas pump. (Democratic proponents of the bill and White House officials have repeatedly rejected that logic, insisting the legislation would lower inflation over time.) "I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there," Manchin said on "Fox News Sunday." "This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do," he said, adding that he could not explain the "mammoth piece of legislation" to constituents in his home state. White House aides learned about Manchin's decision from a member of his staff about 30 minutes before his television appearance, CNN reported, and the White House issued an unusually cutting rebuke -- personally signed off on by Biden -- after what they framed as a reversal of Manchin's stance in talks with the administration.