The Congressional Progressive Caucus is applying pressure to President Biden and Senate Democrats to pass his signature Build Back Better Act by the State of the Union at the start of March.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who chairs the caucus, said in a statement on Thursday afternoon that the case for passage of the party’s sweeping climate and social spending package “has only become more urgent” since negotiations around the bill stalled.
“Public housing residents have endured devastating fires, the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs continue to crush working people, and parents are desperate for child care support. This desperately needed relief cannot be delayed any longer,” she said.
Jayapal said the caucus wants Biden and Senate Democrats to secure the plan’s passage by March 1 so the president “can use the power of the State of the Union platform to share with the nation the relief that people will soon receive.”
“This is both achievable and necessary,” she said. “There is agreement among Senate Democrats on significant parts of this bill: climate action, the care economy, taking on Big Pharma’s price gouging, and lowering health care costs. There is agreement on the need to reduce rising costs facing ordinary Americans — and that is exactly what Build Back Better does.”
Democrats have been working since last summer to pass the trillion-dollar plan, a significant chunk of Biden’s legislative agenda that the party hoped to use to unlock funding for items like universal pre-K, historic investments for climate action and affordable housing.
However, negotiations stalled around the plan last month amid opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key centrist holdout who has been reluctant to get on board with the spending package, citing concerns about the size of the package and rising inflation.
“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” Manchin declared on “Fox News Sunday” in December. “This is a ‘no’ on this legislation.”
Since then, Democrats have reached out to Manchin to revive talks around the plan.
“There’s a lot of conversation going on now. They’ve been reaching out,” Manchin said in an interview with West Virginia MetroNews’s Hoppy Kercheval on Thursday morning. He also said he’s still open to participating in negotiations around the spending plan, though he added he wants “to be realistic,” after again voicing concerns about inflation.
The interview comes a week after Manchin said Democrats would be “starting from scratch” in talks around the plan, casting more uncertainty about when the party will likely pass the package after already spending months crafting the legislation.