After months of careful cultivation -- and even a nickname -- the most important relationship in Washington is narrowly weathering its stormiest moment to date. "The Two Joes" -- President Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin -- spoke by phone on Sunday evening after their tenuous alliance blew apart earlier that morning, imperiling the President's domestic agenda and leaving the fate of his legislative ambitions uncertain. From his home in Delaware, the President discussed reengaging Manchin on his sweeping spending plan next year, sources familiar with the call said.
It was cordial and a chance to clear the air. But few assurances were provided that offered confidence of a path forward. And even amid the air-clearing, the slights -- real and perceived -- seemed to be piling up. Manchin complained Monday to a radio station in his home state of West Virginia that the process of negotiating a $1.75 trillion social and climate bill had become "so staff driven" and that he'd been pushed to his "wit's end" by Biden's aides. A day earlier, Biden directed his team to essentially accuse the senator of deceit in a furious 714-word statement that Biden signed off on before it was sent.