- Democrats are trying to reconfigure a signature spending package that appeared dead.
- The slimmer bill version has been built to win over Sen. Joe Manchin, who tanked the last proposal.
- Manchin’s opposition prompted a furious response from the White House and progressives.
Democrats are working on a revised version of the Build Back Better bill which they hope can win over a key senator.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, tanked the original $2.75 trillion package in late 2021, appearing to kill off a crucial part of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Given the 50-50 split in the US Senate, every Democrat needs to support a measure for it to be able to pass.
Manchin made clear he thought that the spending package was excessive, prompting a furious response from progressive Democrats and a slapdown from the White House.
NBC News reported on Monday that Democrats and White House officials were working together to rebrand the package as a way to help families struggling with rising inflation in the US, an aim also touted by Manchin.
They hope the renewed focus could persuade him to back a less expensive version of the package.
According to initial reports, the reshaped bill does not include measures like child tax credits, which many Democrats approved of but Manchin opposed.
In a letter to Democratic senators on Monday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer listed some features of the new package.
“In reconciliation, Senate Democrats have introduced additional legislative proposals to lower the rising cost of energy, prescription drugs and health care, and the costs of raising a family,” he said, describing the bill as a bid to tackle “rising costs.”
The rebrand appears to be an attempt to placate Manchin, who cited the risk of worsening inflation as the reason he could not support the earlier Build Back Better proposal.
Politico reported last week that negotiations were also underway Democratic leaders and Manchin over what a revised bill might look like.
Per the report, Manchin’s priorities were lowering the government deficit and introducing some new federal programs, providing they were permanently funded.
Manchin told Politico that he wanted the federal government to increase revenue by reforming taxes and lowering prescription-drug prices.
Extra cash, he said, could be split between paying off the deficit and some new federal programs addressing climate change and social care.
The new bill could meet with opposition both in the Senate and the House even with Manchin’s support.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, another Democratic Senator opposed to large new spending packages, has long opposed tax rises. Progressive Democrats in the House were also enraged by Manchin killing off the first proposal, and may not be willing to engage with a new effort shaped by his priorities.
Biden in his State of the Union speech last week discussed a renewed attempt to pass key elements of his Build Back better package, which he also billed as a way to help families struggling with rising costs.