Manchin Remains Staunch Opponent Of Build Back Better, Even In Revival
Once again, Sen. Joe Manchin has tossed a wet blanket on President Joe Biden’s seeming plans to breathe new life into his defunct “Build Back Better” plan.
During his State of the Union address, Biden talked of plans to revive key elements of Build Back better, claiming during the speech that passing a $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion spending package would “lower costs” for most Americans.
But when questioned after the speech, Manchin, who torpedoed the original proposed legislation, said any such talk was still a non-starter.
“They just can’t help themselves,” Manchin quipped when asked by reporters after Biden’s State of the Union speech whether he was surprised by the president’s effort to try to use the moment to try to revive his stalled climate and social spending plan.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he joked.
“Nothing’s changed,” he said.
“There might be parts they want to talk about. I don’t know. That was a little bit far,” he added, referring to the list of expensive Build Back Better items that Biden tried to put back on the table during his first State of the Union.
Manchin also sounded skeptical about Biden’s claim that his Build Back Better plan will fight inflation by lowering costs.
“I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” he said.
That answer prompted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who was walking alongside Manchin across the Capitol Rotunda and sat with Manchin during the address, to exclaim, “You can’t say it better than that.”
Manchin’s comments immediately raised serious doubts about whether Biden will be able to resuscitate his spending package, which stalled in December after months of negotiations.
Biden tried to appeal to Manchin, the only remaining holdout vote in the Democratic caucus, by arguing that his agenda will help offset the impact of rising prices by lowering the costs of middle-class families.
“One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” he said.
“Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures. Top business leader and most Americans support my plan,” he declared.
The president then ticked off several key components of the Build Back Better package he negotiated with Manchin last year, including a proposal to give Medicare authority to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, a plan to double solar and wind energy production, and a proposal to lower the price of electric vehicles.
Biden also highlighted his proposal to cut the cost of childcare, subsidize long-term home health care for seniors and the disabled, and universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Manchin, however, appears more interested in working with Republicans on bipartisan legislation than on trying to revive the Build Back Better Act, which Democrats hope to pass through the Senate on a straight party-line vote under special budget reconciliation rules.
Manchin exited the speech flanked by two Republican colleagues, Romney and Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.). And he sat on the Republican side of the aisle during the speech.
His spokesperson told NBC that “Manchin sat with his colleague Sen. Romney to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the U.S. Senate.”
Despite Biden bringing it up during the State of the Union, Manchin said that “there’s been no formal talks” with the White House about reviving the key elements of Build Back Better.
Asked if there’s “any pieces of it” that he could see passing, Manchin said, “Not until you get your financial house in order can you do that.”