Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia is on track to resume negotiations with the White House and other Democrats on President Joe Biden’s signature $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending package, Axios reported Sunday.
The moderate senator, whose vote is crucial for the bill to pass through the Senate, has expressed a willingness to discuss sections relating to child care and climate change in the president’s plan, the outlet reported, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
However, Manchin has one demand if he and the Biden administration are to conduct talks on those specific provisions, according to the report: The White House should either scrap the enhanced child tax credit plan in the bill altogether or lower the income caps on families qualifying for the program.
Axios political reporter Hans Nichols reported that the senator’s “engagement on specifics indicates negotiations between him and the White House could get back on track” even though he publicly opposed the bill last month.
Manchin shot down the massive spending plan on Dec. 19, telling Fox News during a “Fox News Sunday” appearance that he could not vote “to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there.” The West Virginia Democrat clarified to acting show host Bret Baier that he was “a no on this legislation.”
He pointed out in a statement released that day on his website that inflationary and national debt problems that were not satisfactorily addressed by the legislation prompted him to stand opposed to it.
“For five and a half months, I have worked as diligently as possible meeting with President Biden, Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and my colleagues on every end of the political spectrum to determine the best path forward despite my serious reservations,” the senator said.
“I have made my concerns clear through public statements, op-eds and private conversations. My concerns have only increased as the pandemic surges on, inflation rises and geopolitical uncertainty increases around the world.
“I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation.”
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Manchin said he would “never forget the warning from then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that he delivered during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during my first year in the Senate. He testified that the greatest threat facing our nation was our national debt and since that time our debt has doubled.”
According to Axios, the Senate Democratic Caucus “sees salvaging the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package as key to boosting the party’s chances in this fall’s midterms, especially as President Biden’s popularity sags in the polls.”
The report said that even though the White House and Manchin traded barbs on the legislation, they remained in contact during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
A week before Christmas, there were reports that said Manchin and Biden were close to a potential deal.
From Manchin’s side there was a $1.8 trillion offer, according to Axios, whereby money would be invested in universal preschool and green tax credits. However, the plan had nothing in store for child tax credits that give out $3,600 per kid to families annually.
According to Axios, a strategy for Democrats to crack the stalemate on the Build Back Better plan is to get rid of the child tax credit provision in the legislation altogether and relegate it to its own debate later on.
It noted that this would help with Senate Democrats’ plan to get the bill passed through Democratic votes alone.
However, the filibuster remains a major hurdle for the Democrats, who need to enlist the support of 10 Republicans to secure a hassle-free passage for the bill, according to Axios. Whether they could get that many Republicans remains unclear.
The Western Journal has reached out to Manchin for comment but has not yet received a response.