Biden says Build Back Better talks could slip into new year
President Biden on Thursday reiterated his commitment to passing his sweeping climate and social spending plan while seemingly acknowledging that the bill is unlikely to advance before January.
In a lengthy written statement issued by the White House, Biden said he would continue discussions with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and work with Democrats to finish work on the bill “over the days and weeks ahead.”
Biden did not put a specific timeline on when he would like to see the bill passed, and it appears the Senate will not meet a previously set deadline of Dec. 25 to advance the legislation. Senators have conceded that the bill won’t pass before the end of the year.
“I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition,” Biden said in his statement Thursday.
“My team and I are having ongoing discussions with Senator Manchin; 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 continued. “We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible,” he added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In the statement, Biden also urged Democrats to press forward with election reform legislation, calling for progress “as quickly as possible.” Republicans have blocked efforts by Democrats to pass election reform bills and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Democrats would likely need to alter the legislative filibuster in order to get any legislation passed, though Biden’s statement did not mention the filibuster.
The statement capped a few tumultuous days on Capitol Hill, during which continued objections from Manchin to the $2 trillion House-passed legislation threw the fate of the package into doubt.
Schumer had hoped to pass the bill before Christmas, a timeline supported by the White House, but that goal now appears out of reach.
Manchin has called for a 10-year extension of the expanded child tax credit, opposing the one-year extension included in the bill, while demanding the price tag remain around $1.75 trillion.
Democrats were also working to get approval from the Senate parliamentarian this week. News broke just before Biden issued his statement that the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, had ruled against a third attempt by Senate Democrats to include immigration provisions included in the legislation.
Amid Manchin’s reservations, the pathway forward for the bill remains uncertain. Biden’s statement indicated that discussions would continue into next week and through the beginning of the new year.
Biden needs votes from all 50 Democratic senators in order to pass the bill through budget reconciliation, a process that allows them to sidestep the GOP filibuster. No Republicans are expected to support the package.
Democrats are anxious to get the package through the Senate as soon as possible, conscious of the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon.
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