Biden pressured Manchin to back $1.9T stimulus deal during last-minute phone call, book says
'If you don’t come along, you’re really f---ing me,' Biden reportedly said during the call
President Biden issued a stark warning to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., during a phone call ahead of a critical vote on his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package last March, according to an excerpt from a new book by veteran Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
The phone call reportedly took place on March 5, one day before the Senate lawmakers voted on whether to approve Biden’s "American Rescue Plan." At the time, Manchin, a moderate Democrat, was considered a key roadblock after he voiced concerns about the scope of unemployment benefits in the relief package.
"If you don’t come along, you’re really f---ing me," Biden said during the call, according to the book, which was excerpted by the Post.
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Manchin eventually joined other Senate Democrats to pass the relief package in a 50-49 vote along party lines, handing Biden the first legislative victory of his presidency. The final bill passed after Democrats acquiesced to Manchin’s last-minute call for a pared-down version of Biden’s preferred federal unemployment benefits, and it included several amendments Manchin supported.
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Woodward and Costa said the book, titled "Peril," was based on interviews with more than 200 people.
Manchin and other moderates have emerged as critical voices in the Senate, where the Democrats hold a razor-thin majority and cannot afford defections. The West Virginia senator could derail Biden’s push for the Senate to approve a sweeping $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan.
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Manchin has balked at the package’s cost and signaled that he will oppose a Democratic effort to impose a significant overhaul of the corporate tax code. Earlier this month, Manchin said he would not support the $3.5 trillion plan, citing rising debt and inflation. He did not rule out the possibility of approving a smaller deal.