Manchin Reveals Possible Support For Biden’s BBB Bill

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Recently, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) sunk the Build Back Better Act with his announcement during an appearance on Fox that he was a “no” on the measure, despite engaging in lengthy negotiations. Democratic leaders could not afford to lose a single Democratic vote in the Senate and have the bill still go forward, because of the chamber’s currently close party breakdown. Now, Axios reports that Manchin is “open to reengaging on the climate and child care provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda” — if the expanded child tax credit that was included in the original bill is eliminated, or at least has its eligibility thinned. Manchin has proposed passing funding for universal preschool and green tax credits, as Axios explains.

As could be expected with Manchin, signs of interest in the negotiating process come with a caveat. Axios notes that Manchin’s “belief that [the bill] could cost more than $4 trillion over 10 years extends beyond the [child tax credit] issue, and he continues to tell colleagues he’s concerned about the inflationary effects of so much government spending” — although he voted for massive amounts of defense spending. Axios says that Biden and Manchin spoke over the phone in the evening hours after the West Virginia Senator made his Build Back Better opposition known while on Fox. Biden and Manchin “agreed to continue to talk, and Manchin stayed in touch with senior White House officials over the holidays,” according to Axios’s reporting.

In a lengthy statement that Manchin released around the time of his initial announcement that he’d be opposing the Build Back Better Act — for now, Manchin mentioned other points of concern on his part, so there could be further sticking points in negotiations beyond the child tax credit (and inflation). He said, for instance, that billions of dollars have been invested “into clean energy technologies so we can continue to lead the world in reducing emissions through innovation. But to do so at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow will have catastrophic consequences for the American people like we have seen in both Texas and California in the last two years.” His opinion on whether a certain course of action in clean energy would be “faster” than appropriate isn’t necessarily backed up by the facts.

Manchin has faced only increasing opposition in the time since announcing his opposition to the Build Back Better Act. The president of the United Mine Workers of America — which, as its name suggests, is a coal workers’ union — urged Manchin to reconsider his stance, noting, among other things, that the “bill includes language that would, for the first time, financially penalize outlaw employers that deny workers their rights to form a union on the job.” Perhaps Manchin has paid attention to the messages of criticism.