Dems ‘Still in the Dark’ Over Manchin Build Back Better Agenda as Hopes for Legislative Deal Dwindle
14:50 GMT 10.01.2022 (Updated: 15:08 GMT 10.01.2022)
Democrat Senator of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, told reporters last week that he had made his position on Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislation clear while speaking on “Fox News Sunday” on 19 December, repeating that he couldn’t support the Bill because of fears about rising inflation and the need to conserve federal resources.
Senate Democrats are reportedly increasingly uncertain whether Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would be willing to strike any sort of deal with President Joe Biden on his signature Build Back Better Act
that he has torpedoed until now, reported The Hill.
After The Washington Post reported that Manchin had withdrawn his $1.8 trillion compromise on Biden's much-touted Bill from the negotiating table after a breakdown in negotiations on the issue before Christmas, it is questioned whether he would support any version of it.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was cited as acknowledging he has “no idea” whether Manchin wants a deal.
“Still in the dark,” he was cited as saying when asked about Manchin’s strategy.
“It’s not like a normal negotiation and that’s what is frustrating Biden and frustrating everybody,” said another sceptical Democrat senator.
The lawmaker, opting to remain anonymous, lamented the fact that negotiating with ‘rogue’ Democrat was like “a dance”. According to him, Manchin is prone to telling colleagues he approves certain provisions in the Bill, but remains as far away as ever from signing off on it.
“You expect people to sit in a room and hash out the details,” the lawmaker was quoted as saying.
Another source was cited as saying there were no signs that the West Virginian had any desire to seek a deal on the issue or throw his weight behind a federal election reform plan that includes a variety of filibuster options.
“I have no reason to think that he does, literally no reason to think that he does… All the evidence is to the contrary,” another source added.
The self-styled "moderate conservative Democrat" - the Bill's main stumbling block
according to a White House press release - has repeatedly stated that he does not support the vast spending act seeking to provide new funding for healthcare, childcare and a host of other ideas espoused by the Biden administration.
Before the Christmas break, Senate Democrats had been more hopeful, as Manchin agreed
to talk with Biden and fellow party-members about the shape and scope of the climate and social spending Bill. He had even offered the White House a $1.8 trillion counteroffer to the Build Back Better agenda.
However, Manchin revealed last week that his immediate plans did not involve speaking with Biden about Build Back Better. He reiterated that he had clarified his stance on “Fox News Sunday” on 19 December, where he indicated he couldn’t support the Bill, citing concerns about rising inflation.
Nevertheless, other Democrats are believed to be more optimistic.
“There are pieces of it [Manchin] doesn’t like and he has questions about the size and the pay-fors and all that but I’ve never detected in him that he doesn’t want there to be a deal,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) added that Manchin was “sincere in trying to work things out.”
Democrats have also purportedly acknowledged that if Manchin did end up agreeing to a deal, it would differ greatly from the $ $1.75 trillion framework unveiled by the White House in late October.
“What he has conveyed directly and indirectly to the President and to a number of us is that we got to cut this thing down and it’s got to look like what I support. But what came out of the House? Forget it,” a Democrat senator was cited as saying.