Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters Tuesday there are “no negotiations” going on regarding President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, in the latest sign that the massive social spending legislation is moribund, if not officially dead.
During a Capitol Hill press gaggle, Manchin (D-WV) was asked if he would support a version of the bill that did not include an enhanced version of the federal child tax credit.
“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore because I think I’ve been very clear on that,” Manchin said after a brief pause. “There is no negotiations going on at this time, OK?”
The senator added that the legislation had “an awful lot of things. It had a lot of things that were very, I think, well-intended and there was a lot of things that was a pretty far reach on some things in the most delicate times that we have right now.”
“Our country’s divided,” Manchin added, “and I don’t intend to do anything that divides our country any more, so whatever I can do to unite and bring people together — and that means you have to work harder as you work across the aisle to bring people together.”
After several meetings with Biden and White House officials in December, Manchin announced his formal opposition to the bill Dec. 19 — killing Senate Democratic leadership’s hope of passing the massive legislation through the 50-50 Senate for the foreseeable future.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” Manchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”
Previously, Manchin said he could support a smaller bill, citing concerns over the measure’s effect on decades-high inflation. Manchin also warned that budget “gimmicks” were obscuring the true cost of the package — with costs being spread over fewer years than the revenue streams meant to offset them.
Manchin also blasted White House officials in a Dec. 20 interview for pushing him to his “wits’ end” in the negotiations.
“It is not the president. This is staff,” the West Virginia Democrat told home-state radio host Hoppy Kercheval. “And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”
“I’m always willing to work and listen to try,” Manchin continued. “I just got to the wits’ end and they know the real reasons what happened.”
Due to Manchin’s ongoing opposition, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has shifted focus from passing the Build Back Better Act to a sweeping election reform measure, promising a vote on changing the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster rule before Jan. 17.