The Biden administration issued a hasty walkback of the president's threat to veto a bipartisan infrastructure deal if his nearly $2 trillion "American Families Plan" wasn't enacted at the same time.
"If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it," Biden said on Thursday, while touting the deal, adding "It's in tandem."
Now, the Biden team is in full damage control mode after casting doubt on the deal - saying in a Saturday statement that he'll sign the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal even if they don't bring AFP to his desk.
"At a press conference after announcing the bipartisan agreement, I indicated that I would refuse to sign the infrastructure bill if it was sent to me without my Families Plan and other priorities, including clean energy," reads the statement. "To be clear: our bipartisan agreement does not preclude Republicans from attempting to defeat my Families Plan; likewise, they should have no objections to my devoted efforts to pass that Families Plan and other proposals in tandem."
The statement added that his comments "created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent."
So - to review,
Thursday: "I won't sign it unless you bring me AFP at the same time... it's in tandem."
Saturday: "To clarify... I didn't mean that."
The most powerful man in the world who received the most votes in US history, ladies and gentlemen.
In response to the walkback, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) told ABC's "This Week" that "I was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told all along the way."
GOP Sen. Rob Portman tells @jonkarl he was "very glad to see the president clarify his remarks," as lawmakers negotiate a bipartisan infrastructure deal.— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 27, 2021
"We can move forward with a bipartisan deal that is broadly popular." https://t.co/QiMvnsbwFA pic.twitter.com/iVRch2YhoX
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) also sought to right the ship, telling "This Week" that "There has never been a doubt in my mind that (Biden) is anxious for this bill to pass and for him to sign it, and I look forward to being there when he does."
Sen. Joe Manchin tells @jonkarl there "absolutely" is an infrastructure deal Congress can pass and Pres. Biden will sign: "This is the largest infrastructure package in the history of the United States of America." https://t.co/aG3Ud6cQDs pic.twitter.com/IrodnkVGa0— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 27, 2021
Manchin will go for reconciliation, by the way, if Republicans don't play ball - meaning it would require a simple majority to pass the infrastructure bill instead of at least 10 Republicans if all democrats vote yes. That said, he'll bail if Democrats go hog wild on spending.
"I'm willing to meet everybody halfway. If Republicans don't want to make adjustments to a tax code -- which I think is weighted and unfair -- then I'm willing to go reconciliation. That's how you're able to do it," he said, adding "But if they think in reconciliation I'm going to throw caution to the wind and go to $5 trillion or $6 trillion when we can only afford $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion -- I can't be there."