Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) took a victory lap on Sunday on the heels of his surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week, explaining just why he agreed to it: he was tired of getting yelled at.
“I didn’t want to go through the drama that eight months ago… we went through for so long,” Manchin told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press, one of five Sunday TV appearances he made on his explanation-turned-adulation tour. Manchin was referring to his public tanking of Build Back Better, President Joe Biden’s once-marquee domestic bill.
It was that tanking that made Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, wary of working with Manchin again. “Here we go again,” Manchin recalled Schumer saying when, at one point in negotiations, Manchin said he brought up waiting for July’s inflation numbers.
It was also partly why he didn’t include Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in the talks, he said. Sinema said after the deal came out that she would review the bill, but she has not yet released any public statement of support.
“I didn’t want to bring anybody into the fold that said, ‘This thing might fall apart. Here’s [Manchin]. He’s going down the road again and we’re not getting there,’” Manchin told Fox News Sunday. “‘I couldn’t get there. I didn’t know we were going to get there until it came to fruition.”
Even still, Democrats have balked at Manchin’s close relationship with Schumer. Sen. Bernie Sanders derided the secrecy of the deal, according to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, sarcastically saying he wasn’t aware Manchin was the majority leader.
“I understand the frustration and the reason for that,” Manchin told Karl on This Week. “I didn’t know if we could get a deal, I didn’t know if we could come to an agreement. Why would I put people through… all this drama? I’ve been through this for eight months—I tried, I kept trying. I couldn’t get to where they wanted to go to in my caucus.”
But still, Manchin said he thinks that all that posturing—and public condemnations from the party’s progressive wing, who have only mildly come around to the slimmed-down domestic package—has finally produced a good result, and one with the president’s backing.
“I don’t look at it as politics,” Manchin said on State of the Union. “I don’t look at it as a democratic responsibility because I have a ‘D’ by my name, and I don’t look at my Republican colleagues as enemies. Those are my friends. We’re all Americans—can’t we put our country first? That’s what I’ve always said. I’m not going to make deals and negotiations, and I’m not going to vote because it helps one party over the other party or good for the next election. This is good for America. This is what this is all about, and that’s what I care about.”