Manchin still no, Biden’s $ 2 trillion bill on the back burner of Democrats

WASHINGTON – Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said on Tuesday his opposition to President Biden’s roughly $ 2 trillion social and environmental package of initiatives remained unchanged, with party leaders saying work on the measure at breakeven were suspended at least until the end of the month.

Manchin, DW.Va., told reporters he is not currently negotiating with the White House on the deadlock, but has not ruled out continuing talks. Manchin, who was the leader of his party stuck for months of talks, surprised and angered party leaders before Christmas by saying he could not support the legislation as drafted.

“I feel as strong now as I did then,” Manchin said in his first protracted remarks since his opposition was announced on December 19. He expressed concerns about the measure’s impact on inflation and federal deficits, criticisms that other Democrats have dismissed as unfounded.

Manchin’s comments on Tuesday, along with concessions from leaders that the bill is on the back burner for now, suggest the fate of the legislation remains uncertain as the timeline draws closer and closer to the November congressional elections. .

There are examples of failing presidential priorities that eventually find their way to adoption, including then-President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, a 2009 effort that was only enacted into law. in March 2010. But often the prospect of blocked bills fades over time as opponents mount. offensives that weaken support for lawmakers seeking re-election in tightly divided districts.

Democrats would need all of their Senate votes at 50-50 to advance the measure against the unanimous Republican opposition. A version of the package has already been adopted by the House. It will likely take a long time to reach agreement on a revamped measure among progressives and moderates in the party, who became more suspicious of each other as the talks limped along.

Manchin said the bill was too expensive and wanted to reduce the number of proposals to a far-reaching extent. It is said to currently bolster family services, health care, climate change and other programs, and is mostly funded by higher taxes on the rich and big business.

One of Manchin’s goals is the bill’s extension of a stronger child tax credit, a priority goal for many Democrats, which includes recently expired monthly checks of up to $ 300 for million beneficiaries. Manchin said on Tuesday he wanted this allowance, which the unemployed can currently receive, to be reduced to help only those who have a job.

Biden “absolutely” wants to reach an agreement on the bill with Manchin and other lawmakers, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. She said extending the improved child tax credit was a priority, adding: “We are going to fight for this.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said his chamber would focus earlier this month on voting rights legislation, another Democratic priority. He said he plans to hold votes on this issue by January 17.

He also said Tuesday that “the stakes are high for us to find common ground” on the social and environmental bill, which has been Biden’s top national priority for months. Schumer said negotiations are continuing and Democrats will “keep working until we do something.”

No. 2 Senate Democratic Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Said lawmakers would “clearly return” to the $ 2 trillion package when their work on election legislation is completed.

The backdoor measure includes more than $ 500 billion in spending and tax credits aimed at promoting clean energy and meeting Biden’s target of halving the country’s global warming emissions by 2030 .

Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee and whose state economy relies heavily on energy production, suggested he could support many climate provisions, including some tax credits. . He also wants the bill to include money to promote nuclear energy and capture emissions from industrial facilities that burn greenhouse gases and store them underground.

The plan includes tax credits for companies that install wind, solar, geothermal and other clean energy technologies and also offers electric vehicle buyers up to $ 12,500 in tax credits.

“The climate issue is one that we can probably agree on,” Manchin told reporters.

In a separate press conference, pro-environment senators stressed the importance of reaching an agreement.

“The planet continues its warming process as we argue, wave and fight,” said Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. “And that’s why we have to have a collective determination to make it happen. “

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