By LISA MASCARO and FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden, along with progressive and moderate Democrats, appears determined to come to the negotiating table with Senator Joe Manchin, the hostile Democrat who effectively curbed the party’s signature $ 2 trillion domestic initiative to return.
In the days since West Virginia lawmakers crossed their fingers for the package and dealt a breathtaking blow to months of negotiations on Biden’s agenda, Left and Center Democrats have joined the White House in an attempt to pass the Social Services Act and the Save climate change.
“We have worked too long and too hard to give up now, and we have no intention of doing so,” Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said in a statement Wednesday.
Jayapal said she and members of the caucus had expressed the need for the White House to pursue the goals of the plan through a combination of Biden’s executive powers and legislation rather than legislation alone.
“The legislative approach, while essential, has no certainty of timing or results,” she said, “and we can’t wait to bring tangible relief to people that they can feel and transform their lives and livelihoods . “
At the same time, White House officials were talking with Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Leader of the House of Representatives’ centrist New Democrat Coalition, about their plan to reduce the number of regulations but keep them in effect longer. Manchin said he supported this approach, but progressives have warned against scaling back the number of initiatives set out in the framework released by the White House in late October.
But Republicans are now more confident that they can hit back much of what they don’t like in the package. “As we close the year, it looks to me like you couldn’t swallow the spinach,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, told the Democrats on Wednesday.
Biden spoke Tuesday about the families who would benefit from the Democrats’ ambitious, if now highly uncertain, plan to pour billions of dollars into childcare, health care and other services.
“Senator Manchin and I are going to do something,” said Biden.
The president’s impromptu remarks were his first public statement since Manchin’s announcement over the weekend that he would not support the law like that.
Since then, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has told Democrats in a 90-minute video call that a vote on the package is expected in January.
Schumer told the senators that the party was “not giving up” on the proposal, according to a Democrat who was on a private phone call Tuesday, giving details on condition of anonymity.
But Democrats face serious questions about whether the initiative can be reshaped to win Manchin’s decisive voice and avert a devastating defeat for the party.
Manchin and his party are so far apart, their relationships so battered after months of failed talks, it is unclear how they will ever come back to the negotiating table, let alone revive the 2,100-page bill.
All of this encourages McConnell.
“Well, I know Schumer said on a phone call last night he wasn’t giving up,” the Kentucky Republican told the Hugh Hewitt Show. “I don’t expect him to, but the worst of BBB it seems to me is dead.” He used the abbreviation for the Build Back Better plan.
Biden spoke vigorously of the economic pressures that are robbing the “dignity of a parent” in trying to pay the bills and the support millions could get from the federal government in making legislation. He also said his package would help ease inflationary pressures, pointing to analysis that suggests it would boost the economy.
“I want to get things done,” said Biden. “I still think there is a way to get Build Back Better ready.”
The setback cast doubt on Biden’s leading legislative efforts at a critical time, ending the president’s first year and before the mid-term elections in Congress, when the Democrats’ low standing in Congress is jeopardized.
Coupled with solid Republican opposition, Manchin’s vote is vital to this and other initiatives, including the Democratic pre-emptive suffrage legislation, which Schumer also said would come to an early vote.
Schumer said if Republicans continued to block the voting legislation in January, the Senate would come up with proposals to change Senate rules, a Democrat said on the video call. This is a nod to the drawn-out efforts to adjust or end the filibuster, which usually requires a 60-vote threshold to move forward with action.
While Manchin said he could not explain the bill to West Virginia voters, a union representing coal miners, including some of the nearly 12,000 in his home state, urged lawmakers to “reconsider its opposition to the package.”
Cecil Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America, outlined how the package would benefit union members like those in West Virginia, the country’s most coal-dependent state.
Some of these provisions would extend the fees currently paid by coal companies to fund benefits that pneumoconiosis or black lung victims receive from coal workers. The bill would also offer tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in the coal fields and potentially hire miners who have lost their jobs, the union said.
The next steps remain highly uncertain for the president and his party as Congress is on vacation.
The White House appeared to be interested in Manchin’s and the center coalition’s predilection for a redesigned bill that would do far less but longer than the bill passed by parliament.
However, it will be extremely difficult for Democrats to restore confidence in their ranks for another round of negotiations, having spent much of Biden’s first year in office in what has now essentially collapsed.
The package was one of the largest of its kind ever considered in Congress, and released billions of dollars to help American families across the country – almost all of which were paid in higher corporate and wealthy taxes.
There would be free preschool and childcare aids for families with children. There are grants for health insurance premiums, lower prescription drug costs, and expanded access to Medicaid in states that don’t already offer it. The bill would start a new hearing aid program for seniors. And it has more than $ 500 billion to curb carbon emissions, a figure considered the largest federal spending of all time to fight climate change.
One possible new deadline for Biden and his party is the expiration of an expanded child tax credit that transfers up to $ 300 a month directly to the bank accounts of millions of families. If Congress doesn’t act, the money won’t arrive in January.
Associate press writers Darlene Superville, Kevin Freking and Colleen Long contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected by removing the reference to Jayapal and Caucus members speaking with the White House.
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