Overnight Finance

On The Money — Democrats seek to scale back Build Back Better

Julia Nikhinson

Happy Thursday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Today’s Big Deal: There’s increasing momentum for narrowing the scope of President Biden’s spending package. We’ll also look at Republicans’ flirtation with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and a decrease in supply chain congestion.

For The Hill, we’re Naomi Jagoda and Aris Folley. Write Naomi at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Aris at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.You can reach our Finance team colleague Sylvan Lane at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane

Programming note: There will be no edition of On the Money tomorrow. Happy Holidays!

Let’s get to it.

Democrats look at scaling back Biden bill to get Manchin’s support

President Biden is seen prior to making remarks regarding the the bipartisan infrastructure deal during an event at the Port of Baltimore’s Dundalk-Marine Terminal in Baltimore Md., on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.

Momentum is growing for narrowing the scope of President Biden’s social spending and climate package as Democrats seek a way to get a bill through the Senate with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) support.

Manchin effectively killed a much more wide-ranging bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, on Sunday by announcing his opposition, deeply disappointing and angering the White House and fellow Democrats.

Days later, the pain still stings, but Democrats are actively seeking solutions that might find muster with the conservative West Virginia Democrat, whose vote is a necessity in the 50-50 Senate.

Democratic lawmakers, lobbyists and experts at think tanks believe Manchin might be won over if the bill is revised to include fewer programs for a longer period of time.

  • The House-passed version of Build Back better includes a number of temporary provisions. Manchin argued that Democrats are not being honest about the cost of the bill, since temporary programs are likely to be extended in the future.
  • Some moderate Democrats have long called for the Build Back Better Act to include fewer items for a longer time period, and are emphasizing this idea in the wake of Manchin’s recent comments.
  • It’s not totally clear which priorities would make it into a narrower version of the spending bill. A big question is whether such a package would include an extension of the expanded child tax credit.

Read more from Naomi here.


GOP steps up flirtation with Manchin

Republicans are flirting with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as he faces backlash from his own party over his opposition to President Biden’s climate and social spending bill.

GOP senators, most of whom are friendly with Manchin, are making it clear they would welcome him into their caucus, where they think he would be a good fit given West Virginia’s deep-red political leanings. 

Manchin has given no indication that he would flip, but Republicans know if they can successfully woo him, it would hand them a narrow Senate majority and be a significant stumbling block for Biden’s agenda. 

  • Some have downplayed the push by Republicans, dismissing the efforts partly as a tried and true strategy to drive a wedge between Democrats and create confusion in the media.
  • But other strategists have called on Democrats to exercise caution as Manchin has fielded heat from his colleagues and the White House in recent days over his resistance to Biden’s signature social spending plan.
  • A significant hurdle to the GOP’s efforts to convince Manchin to change sides is that in the Democratic majority he wields the Energy and Natural Resources gavel, giving him considerable sway over issues important to his home state. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) made no commitments in a recent interview but said that “all of those things are things we would discuss.”

Aris and The Hill’s Jordain Carney have more here.


Supply chain congestion down 50 percent, Commerce secretary says

Supply chain congestion has dropped by 50 percent in the past month, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said on Thursday, crediting the Biden administration’s actions in clearing up bottlenecks.

“The gifts will be on the shelves, your packages will be arriving on time in the mail and it’s really a fantastic story,” Raimondo told CNN’s John Berman. “So the congestion is down by 50 percent since you and I last spoke. So it’s really smooth sailing and Santa will arrive on time.”

Earlier this year, the Biden administration issued new measures to alleviate supply chain issues, including operating ports 24/7. Despite the disruptions seen this year, it was reported last week that 2021 was a record year for the Port of Los Angeles in terms of cargo volume.

Read more from The Hill’s Joseph Choi here.


Initial jobless claims flat for the week

Initial unemployment claims were unchanged last week, amid questions about the impact of the omicron variant of the coronavirus on the job market, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

Seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance were 205,000 for the week ending Dec. 18, the same level as the previous week’s revised figure, the Department of Labor said. Last week’s figure was in line with economists’ expectations.

The four-week moving average for claims rose slightly, from 203,500 to 206,250.

Read more here.

Good to Know

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is moving forward with an in-person event next month despite tech companies opting out of in-person participation amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • Taylor Energy, the company behind the United State’s longest-running oil spill, has agreed to pay more than $43 million in removal costs, civil penalties and natural resource damages. 
  • From the Associated Press: “U.S. consumer prices rose 5.7 percent over the past year, the fastest pace in 39 years, as a surge in inflation confronts Americans with the holiday shopping season under way.”

{mosads}That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage.

Tags Gina Raimondo Joe Biden Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell

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