Graham hopes to sway Manchin against Biden plan with new CBO report
Republicans are hoping to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) into hitting pause on President Biden’s climate and social spending plan — or nixing it altogether — using a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the cost of the bill if all of its provisions were made permanent.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, mentioned Manchin by name approximately 20 times during a roughly 27-minute press conference Friday on the CBO’s findings and new data that showed inflation has hit a nearly 40-year high.
“Joe Manchin has been wanting to know without gimmicks what would the bill cost. We now know it more than doubles. … I’ve done what Sen. Manchin said somebody should do,” Graham said.
“What I think will happen is that Joe will take these numbers and he will start making decisions about what comes next, and my hope is that Sen. Manchin will say, ‘Stop, shelve Build Back Better until we find better answers to where inflation is headed,'” Graham added.
The CBO released a report on Friday, at Graham’s request, that found Biden’s spending plan would increase the cost of the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years if all of its provisions were made permanent.
Comparatively, the CBO determined that the bill, as it passed the House, would add $200 billion to the deficit in the same time period.
Graham added that he talked to Manchin earlier Friday and hoped the CBO report would give him “great pause.”
“I talked to him this morning. He was stunned. I think he felt vindicated and that his concerns were legitimate,” Graham said.
Democrats denounced the CBO report that Graham requested because programs created under the Biden bill are temporary and have built in sunsets. If the programs are extended, Democrats add, they’ve pledged to find new ways to pay for them.
“The Republicans are so desperate to justify their opposition to the popular, much-needed provisions in the Build Back Better Act that they’ve resorted to requesting fake scores based on mistruths,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added that “Congress and President Biden have made clear: any future extensions of the life-changing provisions of Build Back Better will be fully paid for, as they are today.”
Brian Deese, the White House director of the national economic council, tweeted that Graham requested a CBO score “of a hypothetical future bill” that Biden, “for one, would not support.”
Not a score. And not of BBB.
— Brian Deese (@BrianDeeseNEC) December 10, 2021
Manchin has repeatedly questioned the cost of the roughly $2 trillion bill, arguing that the programs, once they are created, are unlikely to sunset as they do under the legislation as currently written.
“As more of the real details outlined in the basic framework are released, what I see are shell games, budget gimmicks that make the real cost of the so-called $1.75 trillion bill estimated to be almost twice that amount, if the full time is run out, if you extended it permanently,” Manchin said during a press conference last month.
Senate Democrats need total unity to bring the legislation up for debate and get it passed.
Manchin hasn’t yet said if supports the bill or if he’s willing to help start debate. Democrats say they see him as a holdup to getting the legislation through the Senate by Christmas, Schumer’s self-imposed deadline.
Democrats have made changes to the House-passed bill in the hopes of winning over Manchin, and negotiations are ongoing with him on areas like paid leave and climate change. Democrats also still need to get their bill by the Senate parliamentarian, who offers guidance on if a bill fits within budget rules.
Graham added that if Manchin agrees to shelve Biden’s bill, bipartisan talks on inflation and trying to fix the supply chain could start.
“What I would ask him to do, if you believe we should pause, count me in, Joe, for sitting down with you and others to find a way to lower inflation, deal with supply chain and maybe come up with a new bipartisan bill … that we actually can pay for,” Graham said.
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