President Joe Biden speaks about prescription drug prices and his “Build Back Better” agenda from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Washington.
Associated Press/Evan Vucci
Biden said this week he will try to get “chunks” of his economic agenda passed after Manchin tanked it.
But it’s unclear if Sen. Joe Manchin will budge on his initial concerns, like the expanded child tax credit.
When it comes to the climate, though, Democrats may have an agreement with Manchin.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki decided to elaborate on Friday about President Joe Biden’s strategy to get “chunks” of his $2 trillion social and climate spending bill over the finish line in a 50-50 Senate.
“When the president says chunks he means like a mountain sized chunk, everything we can possibly get in this bill to be in the bill,” she said on “The View.”
It comes two days after Biden switched approaches on passing the centerpiece of his economic agenda and calling for it to be broken up. “I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of Build Back Better signed into law,” he said Wednesday.
The package has run aground in the Senate due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. For the bill to become law, Democrats can’t afford any defections in the upper chamber.
But it’s unclear if Manchin is willing to take even a small bite from Biden’s economic package for the foreseeable future. He told Insider on Thursday that months-long negotiations with the White House would be “starting from scratch,” prompting Democrats to reckon with which priorities to save and scrap from the bill so it has a chance of getting Manchin’s thumbs up.
The House-approved plan would renew the child tax credit for a year, set up universal pre-K, established federal subsidies for childcare, helped combat the climate emergency, and more.
Democrats have suffered a string of setbacks apart from the debacle around Biden’s Build Back Better plan. In the interview, Psaki also encouraged people to air out their frustrations on Democrats’ recent failure to pass a set of voting rights bills this week — partially due to Manchin as well.
“My advice to everyone out there who’s frustrated, sad, angry, pissed off, feel those emotions, go to a kickboxing class, have a margarita, do whatever you need to do this weekend, and then wake up on Monday morning, we gotta keep fighting,” she said.
Manchin has expressed concerns with a range of issues his Democratic colleagues proposed to include in the bill. Yet when it comes to the climate provisions, striking a deal with him may not be an enormous challenge. He said earlier this month that “the climate thing is one that we probably can come to agreement much easier than anything else,” suggesting he might chomp at the climate portion of Build Back Better.
When Biden first unveiled his Build Back Better proposal, it included a $555 billion climate investment that Manchin was quick to jeopardize by withholding support for the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), which would help the US achieve its goals of cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030.
But he has since appeared more open to revisit climate issues — even as all 50 Senate Republicans told the New York Times they would not be on board with climate as a standalone bill.
As Democrats work to get Biden’s agenda passed, they are certainly giving Manchin some big issues to stew on.
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