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Joe Manchin says he’s engaged in ‘no negotiation’ on Biden’s agenda this year — but the majority of voters still want it passed

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Scott J. Applewhite/AP

  • Sen. Manchin said on Tuesday he has had “no conversations” with the White House on Build Back Better this year.
  • This comes after he shut down Democrats’ hopes of passing the bill last year.
  • But the majority of voters still support measures within the package, per Data for Progress.

After West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin dashed Democrats’ hopes of passing President Joe Biden’s economic agenda in 2021, some lawmakers remained hopeful they can get it done early this year.

But Manchin indicated on Tuesday he has not engaged with the White House since rejecting the agenda — even as most voters want to see it passed.

As a centrist holdout on Build Back Better, Manchin had long expressed concerns with the scope and size of Biden’s $1.75 trillion proposal. He frequently cited inflation as a reason to hold off on big spending, and on major provisions in the package. In particular, Manchin wanted to impose income limits or work requirements to reduce access to the expanded monthly child tax credit. 

Given those concerns, he said he cannot support the package, and it appears not much progress has been made since then when he told reporters on Tuesday there have been “no conversations” with the White House on the issue.

“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better because I think I’ve been very clear on that,” Manchin told reporters. “There is no negotiation going on at this time.”

This will likely imperil Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s timeline for passage of the bill early this year, who said on Tuesday “we’ll keep voting until we get a bill passed. The stakes are high for us to find common ground.”

It will also likely disappoint voters who want provisions in the bill signed into law. A Data for Progress analysis released on Tuesday found that over the past two months of polling, 62% of voters, on average, support Build Back Better.

And when it comes to provisions within the package, most of them continue to be supported by the majority. For example, 74% of voters support the monthly enhanced child tax credit, 72% support housing affordability measures, and 52% support paid leave. 

Axios reported on Sunday that Manchin might be open to revisiting negotiations if the monthly child tax credit gets an income limit or is removed from the package altogether. Manchin also told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks “the climate thing is one that we probably can come to agreement much easier than anything else,” signifying his support for certain elements of the package — but not the whole thing.

But some progressive lawmakers say that’s not enough, and could cost Democrats the majority in the midterm elections. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said last month that it’s “actually delusional” to think Democrats can get elected without passing measures they promised to voters, like student-loan forgiveness and climate action.

“The President has tools at his disposal,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Leadership has tools at their disposal. If it really is just 1-2 votes, Senate should force a vote on BBB.”

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