The leader of a group of 95 left-wing House Democrats called on President Biden Wednesday to take executive action implementing portions of the $2 trillion Build Back Better Act.
The statement from Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) came three days after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he could not support the current version of the massive social and environmental spending bill — which includes free pre-K, the expansion of social safety net programs and tax increases on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
“In Congress, we will continue to prioritize a legislative path for Build Back Better, focused on taking the current text of the legislation passed by the House, keeping as much of it as possible — but no less than the elements contained in the framework negotiated by the President and committed to by Senators Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema [D-Ariz.] some months ago,” said Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). “We have worked too long and too hard to give up now, and we have no intention of doing so.
“In the meantime, the White House must continue to act on a parallel track by using the President’s incredibly powerful tool of executive action,” Jayapal continued. “The legislative approach, while essential, has no certainty of timing or results — and we simply cannot wait to deliver tangible relief to people that they can feel and will make a difference in their lives and livelihoods.”
Jayapal added that the CPC would soon release a “comprehensive vision for this plan of action,” emphasizing moves that “lower costs, protect the health of every family who calls America home in this time of surging Omicron cases, and show the world that America is serious about our leadership on climate action.”
Manchin has repeatedly cited concerns about the House-passed bill’s impact on inflation, the renewal of an expanded federal Child Tax Credit and a number of its climate provisions as Democrats have been forced to rely on his support to ensure the legislation makes it to Biden’s desk.
“Just as we cannot wait for a few Senators to deliver economic relief to our communities, we cannot wait for them to deliver relief from the rampant voter suppression and denial of the people’s constitutional rights,” Jayapal continued. “We are encouraged by the dogged determination of our Senate colleagues to achieve this top priority, and Progressives in the House remain committed to seeing it through.”
While Manchin has asserted he will not vote for the current version of the sweeping social spending bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Monday the chamber would press ahead with a vote on the measure despite its expected failure.
On Wednesday, Schumer relayed that Senate Democrats had held a Zoom meeting in which Manchin had participated.
“Joe Manchin was on the phone and lots of our members made pleas to him to continue and negotiate, and he agreed to do that,” the senator said during a press conference alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“BBB is so important to so many people in so many ways, including New York,” Schumer added. “We will fight until we get it. We will keep fighting.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News Wednesday afternoon that he expected Democrats would continue to try to hammer out a version of the bill that could pass both the House and Senate.
“I don’t think they’ve given up [on BBB]. They are what they are,” McConnell told “America Reports”. “They’re the party of Bernie Sanders these days. They’re going to keep pursuing that, but they didn’t get a mandate for this. A 50-50 Senate and a three-seat majority in the House is not a mandate to turn American into a socialist country.”