Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he's a no on the Build Back Better Act, effectively ending negotiations on this version of legislation that would expand the nation's social safety net. Manchin has always been a key holdout for the legislation, sharing concerns over certain provisions of the massive tax and spending bill and how it may exacerbate soaring inflation in the country. "And 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," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He's been wonderful to work with. He knows I've had concerns and the problems I've had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it's affecting our lives again." Manchin's support for the bill -- a $1.9 trillion spending plan focused on expanding the nation's social safety net, reducing Americans' childcare and health care costs, and climate change -- is necessary for Democrats to pass this legislation using a process called budget reconciliation, meaning it would only need 51 votes to pass.
In a statement his office released after the interview, Manchin reiterated he couldn't support the legislation. "I have always said, 'If I can't go back home and explain it, I can't vote for it.' Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation," he said in the statement. A person familiar with the discussions between President Joe Biden and Manchin told CNN it was clear Manchin was headed in this direction as Biden privately told aides this week, he was no longer confident he could ultimately get the West Virginia Democrat on board. But White House officials were surprised when Manchin informed them Sunday morning he had already arrived at a final decision. Their reaction was, obviously, not positive, according to the source. One senior administration official told CNN it was "totally a surprise." Manchin informed the White House they were the first to know and he had not told even his staff yet. 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. Manchin wouldn't take a call from White House staff who tried to reach him Sunday morning, according to a senior administration official. As of Sunday night, the two still had not spoken, according to a senior administration official. Politico first reported about the White House's attempt to reach Manchin to get him to reconsider. In response to criticism from progressives that Manchin was holding up the bill because he wasn't supportive, he said he supported holding a vote for the bill. "Here's the thing, when it's time, just vote, I've been saying that. Just vote. If that's what people need to show where they are, then vote," he said on Fox News. He added: "They've trying to make this adjustment, this adjustment, or just trying to make the adjustment for the time to fit the money or the money to fit the time, not changing our approach, not targeting things we should be doing. Making sure that people basically that truly need it are getting it. Making sure that we can do things in a much better fashion. We have things that we can do in a bipartisan way, the way the Senate is supposed to work if we'll just let it happen. Just go through the committees, let's work it."