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Biden Sees Path for Economic Plan Despite Manchin Rebuff

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2/2 © Bloomberg. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, boards an elevator near his office on Capitol Hill. 2/2

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden said there’s still a chance he can strike a deal with Senator Joe Manchin to get his Build Back Better economic plan through Congress, despite the West Virginia Democrat’s rejection of the measure.

“I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. 

The president addressed the future of his signature, nearly $2 trillion economic plan for the first time since Manchin surprised the White House on Sunday by announcing he wouldn’t support it. Biden pointed out that Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) lowered estimates for the growth of the U.S. economy next year after Manchin’s announcement, and the president again described the legislation as a tool to combat rising inflation.

“All the things in that bill are going to reduce prices and costs for middle-class and working-class people,” he said. “Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done.”

The legislation includes one of Biden’s top priorities, an extension of an expanded child tax credit that’s been paid to families monthly for much of the year. The White House says the payments have helped to slash child poverty.

Manchin’s comments, on Fox News Sunday, caught the White House off-guard after weeks of careful negotiations between the president and his senior aides and the West Virginia senator. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who had previously been deferential to Manchin, responded with a scathing statement that all but accused him of betraying the president.  

Biden and Manchin spoke Sunday night, a conversation that the White House believes left the door open to revive talks on the package, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Whether Biden can salvage parts of his signature legislation depends now on reviving negotiations and mending any wounds with Manchin. In a 50-50 Senate where Republicans uniformly oppose the plan, the president can’t afford to lose a single vote from his party.

“Some people think maybe I’m not Irish because I don’t hold a grudge,” Biden said. “Look, I want to get things done. I still think there’s a possibility of getting Build Back Better done.”

“Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done,” Biden added.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is convening a virtual meeting of Senate Democrats at 8 p.m. Tuesday to discuss Build Back Better, voting rights legislation and possible changes to Senate rules to speed the legislative process or weaken the filibuster. It is not yet clear if Manchin will dial into that meeting.

Schumer announced Monday that the Senate in early 2022 would vote on a revision of the Biden economic agenda and continue voting on it until some version passes.

He also said that as soon as the week of Jan. 3, the Senate would take up voting rights legislation and consider rules changes related to it. 

So far, Manchin has said he would not support a carve-out from filibuster rules for voting rights that would effectively remove the usual 60-vote threshold for major legislation. More likely changes are ending the ability of the minority to block the start of debate, while leaving in place the requirement that 60 votes are needed to end unlimited debate once its starts.

(Updates with additional remarks, beginning in ninth paragraph)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Biden Sees Path for Economic Plan Despite Manchin Rebuff

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