Pelosi: Build Back Better may need to be ‘more limited,’ renamed

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) conceded Thursday that to revive President Biden’s stalled Build Back Better package, Democrats may need to rebrand and scale back the massive climate and social spending package.

Biden, in a marathon news conference a day earlier, had suggested that the House-passed Build Back Better Act may need to be broken up into “chunks” and then pieced back together to see what could win support from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose opposition derailed the $2.2 trillion package last month. 

Pelosi took issue with Biden’s use of the term “chunks” but largely agreed with his assessment that the package would need to be slimmed down.    

“‘Chunks’ is an interesting word,” Pelosi joked at a news conference marking the one year anniversary of Biden’s inauguration. “So what the president calls ‘chunks’ I would hope would be a major bill going forward. It may be more limited, but it is still significant.”

Pelosi rattled off the major pieces that she would like to see preserved in a revamped spending package, which she said Democrats may have to “rename.” First on her list: hundreds of billions in provisions to combat climate change, something Biden said Wednesday that he believes he can push through the Senate.

Pelosi also pointed to provisions expanding health care coverage for millions of Americans and lowering the cost of prescription drug prices. The Speaker said she also doesn’t want to give up on provisions that help children, including universal preschool and the expanded child tax credit.

“We have to have care at home, whether it’s for children or older siblings or parents,” she said. “There are big chunks of the bill that have to be contained in the [new] bill.”

But after Manchin voiced concerns about some high-earning families receiving the monthly tax credit payments, Biden on Wednesday suggested that prized provision may need to be dropped in a future package.

Free community college and the child tax credits are two features that Biden said he’s “not sure” he can get in the package.

However, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) told reporters Thursday that he’s received no word from Biden or the White House that the enhanced child tax credit — which expired for millions of families this month — is being cut out.  

“We need to determine what Joe Manchin is in favor of,” Neal said. “I certainly am not ready to throw in the towel on it.”

Pelosi also appeared to push back on a proposal by some of her vulnerable moderate members who have suggested House Democrats should break apart the massive Build Back Better bill and hold a series of votes on individual pieces.  

The Speaker pointed out that would be a meaningless exercise: Those individual bills would easily be blocked by a GOP filibuster. The Build Back Better bill is being brought up through the reconciliation process, allowing Democrats the chance to push it through with help from all of the party’s 50 senators.

They just need to get Manchin on board somehow.       

“This is a reconciliation bill. When people say ‘Let’s divide it up’ … they don’t understand the process,” Pelosi said. “I’m sure we can agree upon something significant. Call it a chunk if you want, but whatever you call it, we want it to be able to make a difference by transforming the workplace …and protecting the planet. 

“So I’m optimistic; I’m optimistic.”

Tags Build Back Better climate spending enhanced child tax credits Joe Biden Joe Manchin Medicaid expansion Nancy Pelosi Richard Neal
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