President Joe Biden was at home in Delaware Sunday when Sen. Joe Manchin appeared on Fox News to abruptly declare he could not support his sweeping social and climate plan. "I've tried everything humanly possible," the West Virginia Democrat said, appearing remotely. "I can't get there. This is a no." Biden, who learned of Manchin's plans only minutes before the TV appearance, tried quickly to get the senator on the phone. But his attempts were unsuccessful. Manchin's move astonished and infuriated the President and his top advisers, people familiar with their reaction said, after having spent the past 12 months in talks with the senator — in Delaware, at the White House, on the phone and even aboard Manchin's houseboat. In an equally surprising step, the White House torched Manchin afterward in a statement bristling with resentment that shattered the amity Biden had sought to cultivate.
Biden personally signed off on the blistering statement issued by press secretary Jen Psaki after Manchin's announcement on Fox News, according to a source familiar with the matter. While staff drafted language addressing Manchin's specific concerns — on inflation, climate provisions and how the plan was paid for — Biden specifically instructed them to add that if Manchin stood by his comments, he had violated his word to the President. The President learned his chief negotiating partner was pulling the plug from White House aides, who did not hear the news directly from the senator but from a member of his staff roughly 30 minutes before he went on air. As of Sunday night, the two still had not spoken, according to a senior administration official. It was a sudden end to a promising run of dealmaking that stretched back weeks. Four days before Biden was set to depart for high-stakes summits in Europe this fall, he did something he had never done before as president and hasn't done since: turn his home in Delaware into a venue for dealmaking.