Manchin Continues to Hold Biden Hostage on Build Back Better, Issues New Demands

© REUTERS / ELIZABETH FRANTZU.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) gets into a car as he leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2021
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) gets into a car as he leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.01.2022
The self-styled ‘moderate conservative Democrat’ from West Virginia singlehandedly torpedoed President Biden’s signature $1.75 trillion social and climate spending plan last month, with the White House accusing him of an “inexplicable reversal in his position and a breach of his commitments to the president” and his colleagues in Congress.
Senator Joe Manchin is ready to resume negotiations with President Biden on the Build Back Better agenda in the new year, if the president scraps the child tax credit portion of the bill, or reduces income caps for eligible families, Axios reports, citing sources said to be familiar with the matter.

Manchin reportedly fears that actual spending on Build Back Better could spike wildly out of control and top over $4 trillion in the coming decade if provisions are not checked, and concerns about inflation are also a sticking point, the sources said.

The senator put a damper on Biden and the Democrats’ holiday cheer on 19 December after appearing on Fox News Sunday to say he “just can’t” vote on the legislation in its current form, citing inflation fears and the US’s mammoth $29 trillion national debt, which Build Back Better would pile onto if passed. Inflation surged 6.8 percent in November, its fastest pace since 1982.
Manchin and Biden quietly continued talks over the holidays despite their public fallout, with the senator reportedly proposing a $1.8 trillion version of the spending package which cut out child tax credits but left in generous universal preschool and green energy credits. Manchin also reportedly proposed a new billionaire tax as one possible means to raise money for the bill.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA) removes his mask to speak as bipartisan members of the Senate and House gather to announce a framework for fresh coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief legislation at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
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The child tax credits issue has been central to the spat between Biden and Manchin. Passed in the March 2021 Covid stimulus bill and in place until 31 December, the tax credit offered families up to $3,600 in assistance per year. Biden and progressive Democrats vocally praised the spending, saying it successfully “cut child poverty in half” and calling for the programme’s extension inside BBB. Manchin resisted the offer, suggesting the credit alone would cost almost as much over ten years as his entire $1.75 trillion limit on the legislative package.
Manchin has instead suggested that the child tax credits be included in a separate bill, but Democrats have expressed fears that the idea might be a hard sell amid roaring inflation and debt, particularly after the government has already thrown over $6 trillion in new money into the economy over the past two years. The standalone child tax credit bill would also require the support of 10 Senate Republicans, with the GOP attempting to stonewall nearly all Democratic initiatives (apart from defence spending) since Biden took office a year ago.
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Manchin’s vote on BBB is crucial in a Senate split 50/50 between Republicans on one side and Democrats and independents caucusing with Democrats on the other. Some Democratic leaders have expressed annoyance at the West Virginia lawmaker over his privileged position, with Senator Dick Durbin recently complaining that Manchin “has been camped out in the Lincoln bedroom and has his own parking space at the White House, he’s been there so often.” Others have dubbed him a ‘DINO’, or ‘Democrat In Name Only’, over his refusal to march lockstep with the president and his party.
President Biden has been selling Build Back Better as his signature social and climate spending agenda which would transform America, promising $500 billion in cash for clean energy and climate change, and hundreds of billions of dollars more for childcare and preschools, home care and affordable housing, an expansion of Medicare and other social provisions.
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