White House officially punts Build Back Better bill to 2022

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White House officially punts Build Back Better bill to 2022

The White House finally bowed to reality Friday, formally acknowledging that President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social spending plan has no chance of getting through Congress this year.

“The president wants to see this move forward – I think you saw in his statement – early next year,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on board Air Force One en route to South Carolina, where the president was to address South Carolina State University’s winter commencement before heading to Delaware to start his weekend a few hours early.

Psaki also insisted Friday that it was “absolutely our plan” to pass the bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, before the November 2022 midterm elections — in which Republicans are heavily favored to regain control of Congress.

“The President wants to see this move forward,” the press secretary said. “It’s a priority for him as soon as Congress returns” from its holiday break.

Senate Democrats were attempting to pass the spending plan through the parliamentary maneuver of reconciliation, which required all 50 Democrats to support the measure in the evenly divided chamber. But negotiations between Biden and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have stalled over an expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit, which Manchin wants out of the legislation.

US President Joe Biden speaks to the press as he arrives in South Caroline on Friday.
US President Joe Biden speaks to the press as he arrives in South Caroline on Friday.
AFP via Getty Images

Manchin has also expressed concerns that the bill would worsen inflation, which hit a 39-year high last month.

A Democratic source told The Post earlier this week that the discussions between the two “have been going very poorly. They are far apart.”

“If Joe Manchin needs more time on BBB, Joe Manchin will get more time,” added another frustrated DC insider with knowledge of the negotiations. “Not as a courtesy. But because there is no other choice. The good news is that he’s willing to keep talking. The bad news is that talking is not action.”

“The president considers Senator Manchin a friend,” Psaki said Friday. “He’s somebody who he has had many candid and direct conversations with. It doesn’t mean they always agree on everything, but that is not the bar that the president sets for his friendships or relationships with members of Congress.”

Joe Manchin leaving his office while hounded by reporters.
‘The president considers Sen. Manchin a friend,’ Psaki said Friday.
AP

In a Thursday night statement, Biden said he and his advisers were still talking with Manchin and “that work will continue next week.”

“It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote,” the president explained. “We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; [Senate Majority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.”

“We will – we must – get Build Back Better passed, even in the face of Republican opposition,” Biden vowed.

Biden and Pskai seen through the window of Marine One on Friday morning.
Biden and Pskai seen through the window of Marine One on Friday morning.
EPA

Meanwhile, Democrats have pivoted away from pushing the Build Back Better Act in recent days to focus on a massive election reform bill, which is also unlikely to pass the Senate.

At the end of his Thursday night statement, Biden said that Democrats must also press forward on voting rights legislation, and make progress on this as quickly as possible … Our democracy is at stake.”

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