Joe Manchin Says $2T Biden Bill Is 'Dead'

"What Build Back Better bill?" holdout Democrat says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2022 2:22 PM CST
Manchin: Build Back Better Bill Is Dead
Sen. Joe Manchin leaves his office after speaking with President Biden about his long-stalled domestic agenda, Dec. 13, 2021.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sen. Joe Manchin declared Tuesday that President Joe Biden's vast social and environment bill is "dead," using his strongest language to date to underscore that any revival of Democrats' top domestic priorities would have to arise from fresh negotiations. The remarks by the West Virginia Democrat didn't substantively alter the stance he'd taken in December, when he said he couldn't support the legislation as written, essentially dooming it. But his latest comments illustrated the election-year challenges facing his party as it struggles to resuscitate parts of the package and win over voters weary of the two-year-old pandemic and coping with the worst inflation in decades, the AP reports.

"What Build Back Better bill?” Manchin said Tuesday, using the legislation’s name, when reporters asked about it. "There is no, I mean, I don’t know what you’re all talking about." Asked if he’d had any talks about it, he added, “No, no, no no. It’s dead." Manchin has repeatedly said he remains open to talks aimed at crafting a smaller bill that could include its provisions aimed at reducing carbon emissions, creating free pre-kindergarten programs and increasing federal health care subsidies. But he has said negotiations have yet to begin. That lack of activity, along with Biden's dismal approval rating in polls, has prompted Democratic worries that the effort could fade away.

"I'm open to talk to everybody, always have been," Manchin said Monday. "I just want to make sure we find a balance and something we can afford, and do it and do it right." In December, Manchin's abrupt announcement of his opposition to the 10-year, roughly $2 trillion measure, which had already passed the House, snuffed out its prospects in the Senate. Manchin has said the bill could further fuel inflation, is too expensive, and finances too many programs. Other Democrats say the measure would help families handle rising costs by bolstering the federal aid they get for health care and education costs, and its expanded child care assistance would help many people return to work. They also note that the bill would largely pay for itself by raising taxes on big corporations and high-income people.

(Read more Build Back Better Act stories.)

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