Brian Deese appeared to blow off reports that Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin had given President Joe Biden a hard “no” on the $3.5 trillion spending package.
Deese, who serves as White House Director of the National Economic Council, joined Friday’s broadcast of “Morning Joe” — and he suggested to host Willie Geist that the reports were the overblown attempts of “headline writers” to push a narrative. (RELATED: ‘Their Product Is Killing Teenage Girls!’: Joe Scarborough Pins Blame On Congress In Emotionally-Charged Anti-Facebook Rant)
“The White House is pushing forward on the president’s signature spending plan, but the road to passing the reconciliation bill in the Senate just got more rough,” Geist began, citing an Axios report saying that, despite a face-to-face meeting with Biden, Manchin had doubled down on his opposition to the plan.
“What does this mean for the future of this massive spending package? Obviously you need Joe Manchin, you need [Democratic Arizona Sen.] Kyrsten Sinema,” Geist said. “If Joe Manchin says ‘I’m not moving on this,’ where does that leave you guys?”
Deese immediately pushed back on the report, headlined “Biden Bombs with Manchin.”
“I appreciate the role headline writers have in writing those headlines. The truth is we make progress —” Deese objected, but Geist interrupted.
“What does that mean? He says he’s not going to support the bill. If you don’t have him, you’re not going to have the bill,” he said.
“I’m not going to get into private discussions the president is having. I can tell you we are making progress on this,” Deese continued, saying that there were a number of issues still to work through.
“If we tallied up all of the times in which this Build Back Better agenda that President Biden put forward was declared dead in the public and the press, then we would have a long, long list,” he added. “We continue to keep our head down, keep moving and we are making progress here.”
Geist continued to press, asking whether the White House was prepared to give a little bit to Manchin, which would likely result in a lower price tag attached to the package.
“We’re going to keep those negotiations among the members of the Congress,” Deese said, saying the president was and always had been “open to compromise.”