Biden mega-spending bill could be in jeopardy as Manchin stands ground
Manchin opposes the bill's cost and is reportedly concerned about the expanded child tax credit
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., cast doubt on a Senate vote on the spending bill by Christmas, putting in peril President Biden and Senate Democrats' goal of passing the roughly $2 trillion measure before the self-imposed deadline.
Asked by Fox News on Wednesday whether he would be able to work through issues to hold a vote on the measure before Christmas, Manchin said, "We haven’t even gotten anything back from the parliamentarian, so just procedurally we have nothing to vote on."
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Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are considered key holdouts on Biden’s social spending bill. The West Virginia senator has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation’s cost, warning a broad spending package would be fiscally irresponsible given rising inflation.
Manchin is not budging, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Mr. Manchin has so far stood by his central critique of the package: that it temporarily funds programs that Democrats intend to later make permanent, as a way to disguise the full price of its provisions," the Journal reported. "At issue in the talks between Messrs. Biden and Manchin is the child tax credit, which Democrats made more generous, offered to low-income Americans who owe no income taxes and began distributing in monthly cash installments earlier this year."
Following a phone call with the president earlier this week, Manchin said the two of them discussed "different iterations" of a bill. Asked then about the possibility of a vote on the bill before Christmas, Manchin said "anything's possible."
White House spokesman Andrew Bates stated Manchin and Biden had a "constructive phone call and agreed to follow up with one another" in the coming days.
The House passed its version of the Build Back Better Act last month in a party-line vote following months of negotiations with progressives and moderates. The Senate version is expected to contain changes, given opposition from Manchin and Sinema.
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The $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill passed by House Democrats last month would establish universal preschool, expand Medicaid, provide new funding for child care and offer green energy tax credits, though it notably omits progressive priorities like free community college and Medicare dental and vision coverage. It relies on $1.95 trillion in new taxes, including a 15% corporate minimum tax and a surcharge aimed at multimillionaires.
All 50 Democrats will have to support the bill to ensure its passage in the Senate.
Fox News' Thomas Barrabi and Megan Henney contributed to this article.