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Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.8 trillion social spending offer is seemingly no longer in play after breakdown in talks with Biden White House: report

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia speaks with reporters at the US Capitol on December 15, 2021.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

  • Sen. Manchin’s $1.8 trillion spending offer is seemingly no longer in play, per The Washington Post.
  • Manchin doesn’t support advancing the proposal following a breakdown in talks with the White House.
  • Despite the turbulence, the senator continues to back many of the administration’s policy goals.

The $1.8 trillion social-spending blueprint that Senator Joe Manchin proposed to the Biden White House in late 2021 has seemingly been shelved after the lawmaker hit turbulence in negotiations with the administration, according to The Washington Post.

Last month, the West Virginia Democrat proposed a counteroffer to the larger Build Back Better social-spending proposal sought by President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders, with the moderate lawmaker’s plan including critical investments for climate initiatives, an expansion of the Affordable Care Act, and universal pre-K.

However, Manchin is no longer supportive of moving that offer along after the breakdown in the negotiation process with the administration, according to three individuals with knowledge of the situation who spoke with The Post.

On Tuesday, Manchin said that he had not yet spoken with the White House about the social-spending bill this year.

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

In private, the senator has stated that he does not intend to back legislation modeled after the Build Back Better Act and wants the party to overhaul their approach to the bill.

Several senior Democrats expressed that Manchin would likely not back his earlier proposal even if the Biden White House sought to pass it in its original form — a result of the breakdown in talks last month — according to the newspaper.

Days before Christmas last year, Manchin made a bombshell appearance on “Fox News Sunday” where he announced his opposition to Biden’s signature domestic legislation and “refused to take a call from White House staff” before the interview despite their efforts to stave off his decision, according to a Politico report.

Less than half an hour before Manchin’s talk with host Bret Baier, Manchin sent an aide to inform the White House and congressional leadership of his intentions to fully oppose the bill.

After the appearance, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called out the senator for his stance in a statement.

“If his comments on FOX and written statement indicate an end to that effort, they represent a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position, and a breach of his commitments to the President and the Senator’s colleagues in the House and Senate. Just as Senator Manchin reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning, we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word,” she said at the time.

The White House has continued to project confidence that they can eventually win over Manchin in some way and produce an economic package that can pass in Congress.

The senator’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer contained major elements of the party’s longstanding policy goals. In recent days, Manchin has reiterated that he backs much of Biden administration’s climate objectives, including clean energy tax credits.

However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has reoriented the floor schedule to focus on passing stalled voting-rights legislation, namely the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act.

The move puts into question the future of the larger social-spending bill.

In recent weeks, Manchin has spoken with a range of figures hoping to influence him on the spending bill, including senior White House aide Steve Ricchetti, former Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, among other individuals, according to The Post.

White House allies — including some officials in the actual building — are trying to figure out how Biden will approach his dealings with Manchin, especially given the possibility that the party will lose one or more chambers of the Congress this fall.

Ben Ritz, a budget expert at the DC-based Progressive Policy Institute, told The Post that “a $1.8 trillion package along the lines of what Manchin offered last month would be one of the most transformative, progressive pieces of legislation in modern history.”

He added: “The White House should absolutely take it if they can.”

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