The Democrat said he would not support the “Build Better” plan as it is written.
Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., privately asked whether parents would misuse child tax credit payments to buy drugs, according to three sources familiar with his comments.
Sources told ABC News that Manchin had detailed his concerns privately to colleagues and others on Capitol Hill in recent months.
The private talks highlight deep disagreements between the conservative Democrat and most of his party over a popular agenda that the White House has touted as one of President Joe Biden’s main achievements with a Democrat-controlled Congress .
In an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Manchin signaled his opposition to the White House’s $ 1.75 trillion social policy plan as currently drafted, ending negotiations on the passed bill. by the House that Democrats initially hoped to get enacted before Christmas.
The proposal included an extension of the child tax credit program – which will likely expire in January after the last payments of December 15 – as well as paid family leave, an extension of Obamacare coverage, and funding for education and health. fight against climate change.
“I cannot vote to advance this gigantic bill,” he said in a statement on Sunday. âMy fellow Democrats in Washington are determined to radically reshape our society in a way that makes our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take this risk with a massive debt of over $ 29 trillion. and inflation taxes that are real and bad for all Americans who work hard at gas pumps, groceries and utility bills with no end in sight. “
In a response from the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki accused Manchin of backtracking negotiations with the president after presenting Biden last week with a potential framework for social policy and the spending plan.
“Senator Manchin has vowed to continue the conversations in the days to come and to work with us to reach that common ground. If his comments on Fox and his written statement indicate the end of this effort, they represent a sudden turnaround. and inexplicable of his position, and a violation of his commitments to the president and the senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate, “Psaki said.
In private conversations, Manchin also said he believed paid family leave would be exploited by Americans to go hunting during deer season – particularly in his home state of West Virginia, according to two separate sources. familiar with the comments. Both remarks were first reported by The Huffington Post.
Those who heard the comments firsthand have expressed outrage and unease to ABC News.
Senator Manchin has made it clear that he supports the Child Tax Credit and believes the money should go to those who need it most. He also expressed support for a paid vacation program with ‘a dedicated and sustainable funding mechanism,’ said a spokesperson for Manchin. office told ABC News.
Biden and Manchin spoke on Sunday after Manchin’s remarks on Fox News, according to two sources familiar with what has been described as a cordial conversation.
The White House and Manchin’s office declined to comment.
ABC’s Alison Pecorin contributed to this report.