Manchin: There are ‘no negotiations’ on Biden spending bill ‘at this time’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters Tuesday that he isn’t involved in any serious talks at this time about reviving President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending bill, underscoring the lack of progress on the president’s signature domestic policy plan.

“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore because I think I’ve been very clear on that. There is no negotiations going on at this time,” Manchin said, doubling down on comments he made to “Fox News Sunday” last month announcing that he would not vote to proceed to the legislation.

Manchin said he’s more interested in working on legislation that has bipartisan support and again expressed concern about pushing legislation that further divides Democrats and Republicans.

“There’s an awful lot of things, a lot of things that were very, I think, well intended. And there was a lot of things that was a pretty far reach,” he explained. “Our country is divided and I don’t intend to do anything that divides our country anymore.”

Instead, Manchin said he wants “whatever I can do to unite and bring people together.”

The West Virginia Democrat, however, expressed interest in backing more federal support for renewable energy sources and technologies, raising the possibility that he might be able to vote for a smaller climate-focused package.

But the parameters of such a bill still need to be sketched out and Manchin didn’t clarify whether he would support moving such a bill with simple-majority votes under the special budget reconciliation process or under regular order with 60-plus-vote majorities.

“There’s a lot of good things in there,” he said when asked about the climate-related provisions in the Build Back Better bill. “We got a lot of money in there for innovation, technology, tax credits for basically clean technologies and a clean environment and I think we have to continue.

But Manchin also argued for preserving the role of fossil fuels to ensure a dependent supply of affordable energy, as he has done many times before. 

“We have to have enough energy to run our country,” he said.   

Manchin made his comments shortly after Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he is working with Democratic colleagues on another iteration of the Build Back Better bill.

Schumer on Monday again promised he would bring some version of the bill to the floor.

“The negotiations will continue with members of our caucus and with the White House on finding a path forward on Build Back Better. As I mentioned before Christmas, I intend to hold a vote in the Senate on BBB and we’ll keep voting until we get a bill passed,” he said.

Senate Democrats say they don’t expect a vote this month, however, and warn that the climate and social spending bill, or a slimmed-down version of it, may have to wait until March or later.

Asked about the likely timing, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Tuesday declined to speculate whether the bill could move in February or March.

“We’re focused on voting rights as we should be and I think the White House is joining us in that effort and clearly we’ll return to Build Back Better as soon as that’s done,” he said.

Durbin said he is concerned that the enhanced child tax credit expired at the end of last month and that it’s possible it won’t be included in the reworked version of Build Back Better because of Manchin’s opposition to a one-year extension.

“It troubles me greatly. I think it’s one of the more important things that we’ve done. Cutting child poverty in the United States in half is a major accomplishment and I hope we don’t abandon it,” he said. 

Updated 12:55 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Joe Biden Joe Manchin

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