Joe Manchin declared Biden's Build Back Better plan was 'dead.' Here's what could get a thumbs-up from him in a skinnier package
- Democrats face an enormous challenge getting Sen. Joe Manchin onboard on Biden's agenda.
- He said the Build Back Better plan was "dead" but cracked the door open to a future deal.
- He's signaled willingness to strike a climate deal; here's what else could get a thumbs-up.
Democrats have an enormous challenge ahead of them as they try to convince a holdout in their party to back President Joe Biden's economic agenda.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared the House-approved Build Back Better plan "dead" on Tuesday, reiterating his opposition to a $2 trillion package aimed at expanding healthcare, childcare, and combating the climate emergency.
"What Build Back Better bill?" he told Insider . "I don't know what y'all are talking about."
He left the door cracked open for a separate deal, and Democrats eventually hope to pass a scaled-back version of their Build Back Better legislation — perhaps in "chunks" as Biden suggested. But without Manchin's vote, Senate Democrats can't approve the plan over unified GOP opposition.
That means a whole new round of Democrats haggling to figure out what parts of their domestic agenda Manchin is willing to cast a vote for. Some programs like the expanded child tax credit are at risk of falling out of the bill due to objections from Manchin.
It doesn't seem likely there will be imminent progress towards a deal on a separate bill with other priorities higher up on the Congressional to-do list, including keeping the government funded and elections reform.
Here's what could get a thumbs-up from Manchin as Democrats grapple to keep top priorities in a skinnier package.
Obamacare fixes and prescription-drug price controls
The House bill included a fresh boost of federal subsidies so people could better afford private health coverage from marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. It would last through 2025.
An extension of the program was part of Manchin's offer to the White House, The Washington Post reported . Many Democrats support the initiative since it would widen who qualifies for health coverage to many more in the middle class, either cutting or scrapping monthly premiums depending on their income. The federal assistance was beefed up for a year under the Biden stimulus law, and it's slated to expire at the end of 2022 if Congress doesn't step in.
Many in the party, including Manchin, also want to empower the federal government to negotiate the prices of at least some prescription drugs. Key provisions within the plan include a cap on insulin prices set at no more than $35 a month and other limits on out-of-pocket spending, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
He told reporters last week that he seeks to address "pharmaceuticals that are gouging the people with high prices," adding, "we can fix that."
Another central component of the legislation is a measure to establish universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old in the US.
However, the initiative's effectiveness would hinge on whether states actually participate in it. That could be a problem due to its funding formula, which would see states picking up a hefty part of the tab to create or expand existing programs down the road. In addition, GOP states could simply opt out, The Washington Post reported.
$500 billion in climate spending
Democrats increasingly view the Build Back Better bill as their last chance to enact sweeping measures to mitigate the heating of the planet. The US has recently experienced a spate of wildfires, strong storms, and droughts that were likely more severe due to the climate emergency.
Much of the legislation is devoted to a series of tax credits and incentives meant to smooth the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar power. One part of the bill sets aside funding for electric-vehicle buyers to get up to $12,500 in tax credits .
Manchin appears to favor that chunk of the bill over the rest. "The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else," he said on January 4. "There's a lot of good things in there."
Biden has said he believes that part of the package could be salvaged. "I think it's clear that we would be able to get support for the $500 billion plus for energy and the environment," he said last week.Read the original article on Business Insider