Politics

Biden’s Build Back Better Bill Suddenly In Serious Danger

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President Biden’s $2 trillion climate and social spending bill, which appeared to have strong momentum when it passed the House a month ago, now appears to be in real danger of collapsing in the Senate.

Democratic senators now concede there is no chance of passing the Build Back Better Act before the end of the year, as they had hoped.

A Senate Republican aide on Thursday said that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Republicans are close to a deal to confirm a bloc of nominees and hold some others over until January, which would clear the Senate calendar for the rest of 2021 and allow senators to go home for Christmas.

But more importantly, there is also a chance the entire Build Back Better bill will have to be reworked to accommodate Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) opposition to including a one-year extension of the expanded child tax credit in the bill.

Manchin says he does not oppose the tax credit, which he has backed in past legislation. But he argues that because the credit is likely to be renewed over the next decade, its true cost is not reflected in the current bill’s official Congressional Budget Office score.

The West Virginia senator wants the bill to reflect the 10-year cost of the tax credit, which would require other tax hikes or spending cuts to prevent the official cost of the bill from rising heavily.

With the Senate evenly divided, Democrats acknowledge they can’t move forward without Manchin and the bill will have to wait until 2022.

And frustrations are rising.

“The situation points out that a 50-50 Senate is really problematic, I’ve used the word sucks. It definitely enables one or two people to hold things up, so yes, I’m frustrated,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told reporters, expressing frustration shared by many Democratic senators over the impasse.

The 10-year extension of the tax credit would cost about $1.5 trillion, but Manchin also wants to keep the overall cost of the bill at $1.75 trillion.

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That means there would be little room for other Democratic priorities in the legislation, such as long-term home health care, generous child care subsidies, expanded Medicare benefits, universal prekindergarten and raising the cap on state and local tax deductions.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Thursday said that Democrats had “missed an opportunity” and described himself as “frustrated and disappointed.”

“We had more than ample opportunity to reach … a Democratic agreement — I never assumed any bipartisan support. We missed an opportunity, but I’m not giving up,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Thursday he was “very disappointed” the bill had stalled but added, “I’m determined to keep… (Read more)

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