Dems Struggling to 'Get Something Done' on Biden's BBB Plan Amid Senator Manchin's Opposition
Opposition by Senator Joe Manchin to the president's "Build Back Better" plan has essentially ruined the chances of the sweeping bill to have any success in the equally divided Senate. However, the Democrats do not appear to be giving up on the embattled presidential agenda.
US President Joe Biden has expressed determination about his teetering Build Back Better (BBB) plan, saying neither he nor Democratic lawmakers intend to abandon the struggle to "get something done" about their fellow holdout - Senator Joe Manchin, who has opposed the plan.
When reporters asked him about the fate of the BBB on Tuesday, Biden seemed light-hearted about Manchin's opposition.
"Some people think maybe I'm not Irish because I don't hold a grudge. But I want to get things done", Biden said. "I still think there's a possibility of getting Build Back Better done".
A similar sentiment was earlier voiced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The line "we will get something done"
has been circulating among Democrats since Tuesday, with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledging to hold another vote on the plan early in 2022 - "so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television".
As White House press pecretary Jen Psaki put it, Biden will "work like hell"
to save his agenda, as he is no stranger to "legislative challenges". The president has insisted that both wings of his party - the "progressives" and the "moderates" - have to work together, and said he hopes for such an opportunity in January.
What is 'Something'?
While the Democrats, headed by the president, try to set a determined tone, it remains unclear what exactly can be done in order to win Machin's vote, which is crucial given the razor-thin majority in the Senate. The Build Back Better package has already been trimmed several times so that it sits well with every Democratic lawmaker - from the initial $3 trillion designated for social spending it shrank to some $1.7 trillion.
Aside from this, not everyone in the Democratic Party appears to "not hold a grudge" like President Biden. For her part, progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lashed out
not just at Joe Manchin, calling his opposition a "farce", but also lambasted the entire concept of the US Senate as an "old boys" club that needs a "crackdown".
The squabbles within the Democratic Party appear to have caused glee among Republicans - all of whom have essentially been opposing the Build Back Better plan from the very beginning. Getting a sudden sympathiser in Joe Manchin, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed his move to oppose Biden's agenda and even appeared to offer a place in the Grand Old Party.
"That's what the country needs, to see this bill killed. It is absolutely inappropriate and unnecessary at a time when we're fighting inflation", McConnell said.
Other Republicans also celebrated the misfortune of the Build Back Better plan as "exciting news", echoing McConnell's call to "kill this bill" and referring to high inflation and the tense economic situation as something to deal with before announcing ambitious social, infrastructure, and climate spending.
How Will It Affect Dems' Chances in Midterms?
The demise of the BBB is not the only challenge facing the Democrats as the 2022 midterms are looming. The president's approval ratings have been plummeting dramatically due to both foreign and domestic policy decisions by the Biden administration, with some polls already suggesting that former President Donald Trump, should he run against Biden now, could win the White House.
Besides the Biden agenda's complicated fate, voters are already "very concerned with rising inflation, a sluggish economy, the persistence of COVID, and the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan that left behind too many allies", according to Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
"It will take a miracle for Democrats to keep control of Congress", Riedl told Sputnik, commenting on the Democrats' chances in the midterms.