WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe BidenAll but admitting that talks over his broad domestic policy package may push through the new year because he doesn’t have enough Senate votes to pass the bill worth $2 trillion, on Thursday he said so.

Biden released a statement after it became clear that the Democratic senators wouldn’t meet their Christmas deadline. This was in part due to unyielding resistance from Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia.

According to the president, West Virginia Senator Jimmie Jones reiterated in recent talks his support of the framework that he and President Obama had agreed on for the flagship bill. Biden also said that he briefed the House Speaker Nancy PelosiChuck Schumer (Senate Majority Leader) about the recent round of talks between Manchin and Schumer.

“I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition,” Biden said in the statement.

Biden indicated that Schumer was ready to bring it up to the Senate’s floor so they can vote as soon as possible.

“We will — we must — get Build Back Better passed,” Biden said.

Biden’s statement was a much-needed intervention, allowing Senate DemocratsAn off-ramp for months of complicated negotiations, which seem nowhere near over.

The Democrats also rushed to make progress on another complicated priority, voting rights legislation, which, Biden admitted, faces many hurdles. “We must also press forward on voting rights legislation, and make progress on this as quickly as possible,” Biden said.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) had originally set Senate passage prior to Christmas as his goal. However, disputes remain with Manchin, and other Democrats. The party wanted Biden to intervene in order for him to make a deal or encourage lawmakers not take action before January.

Biden “wants to get this done as soon as possible,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, She added, “But we understand it’s going to take time and we’re going to continue to do the work.”

Schumer barely mentioned the legislation as the day’s business began. Instead, he described Democrats’ efforts to break a logjam on voting rights legislation and a pile of nominations the Senate will consider “as we continue working to bring the Senate to a position where we can move forward” on the social and environment bill.

Using his sway in a 50-50 Senate where Democrats need unanimity to prevail, Manchin has continued his drive to force his party to cut the bill’s cost and eliminate programs he opposes. All Republicans oppose the package, arguing the measure carrying many of Biden’s paramount domestic priorities is too expensive and would worsen inflation.

“The best Christmas gift Washington could give working families would be putting this bad bill on ice,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

A person who was unauthorized to discuss the rocky status of the Biden-Manchin talks and spoke only on condition of anonymity said Wednesday that Manchin was pushing to eliminate the bill’s renewal of expanded benefits under the child tax credit, a keystone of Democratic efforts to reduce child poverty.

Manchin told reporters Wednesday that assertions he wants to strip the child tax credit improvements were “a lot of bad rumors.” Asked if he backed eliminating one of the bill’s child tax credit improvements — monthly checks sent to millions of families — he said, “I’m not negotiating with any of you.”

Biden suggested that Democrats prioritize voting rights legislation over the primary goal of their party, which Republicans have long blocked. Democrats face an uphill fight on the voting measure, but focusing on it would let them wage a battle that energizes the party’s voters while lawmakers work behind the scenes on the social and environment bill.

Asked whether Congress should quickly consider the voting legislation and delay the $2 trillion bill to next year, Biden told reporters, “If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it.” He added, “There’s nothing domestically more important than voting rights.” Biden spoke Wednesday as he toured tornado damage in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.

Letting the social and environment legislation slip into next year, when congressional elections will be held, would be ominous for the bill’s ultimate prospects.

With Democrats already exceeding the deadlines they had set, any delay could fuel Republican claims that they lack competence in running the government they own. Democrats prepare for November elections, when Republicans have a realistic chance to win control of both Senate and House.

Word of Manchin’s stance prompted a backlash from colleagues, whom he’s frustrated for months with constant demands to cut the bill’s size and scope. Also included in the measure are funds for universal prekindergarten, climate change programs and health care. They were largely funded by tax increases on large corporations and wealthy.

The second-ranking Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said “the level of emotion” among Democrats over the child tax credit “is very high,” and said he was “stunned” when he heard about Manchin’s demands.

Manchin has wanted the overall bill’s 10-year price tag to fall below $2 trillion. Also, he wants every program to run for the whole decade.

The current bill would extend the enhanced child tax credit for just one year, a device to contain the bill’s cost. Renewing the improved benefits for 10 years would increase its current one-year cost of around $100 billion to over $1 trillion, and doing that while cutting the overall bill’s size would wreak havoc on Democrats’ other priorities in the bill.

According to the Treasury Department, the extended tax credit helped families with 61 million children.

Manchin’s other demands have included removing a new requirement for paid family leave. There are many disputes among lawmakers about how to increase the federal tax deductions that apply to state and local taxes.

Another impediment to Democrats is a time-consuming review by the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, about whether many of the bill’s provisions violate the chamber’s rules and should be dropped. MacDonough stated Thursday that the provision that allows many migrants to remain in the U.S. temporarily should be dropped.


Farnoush Alimiri and Darlene Superville were Associated Press journalists who contributed to this article.

Source: HuffPost.com.

Share Your Comment Below


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here