Build Back Better at a Standstill, Biden Says ‘It Takes Time to Finalize Agreements’

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock / Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

Negotiations for President Joe Biden’s trimmed down $1.75 trillion Build Back Better economic bill, are at a standstill after talks with Sen. Joe Manchin failed to advance its passage before the Democrats self-imposed Christmas deadline.

In a statement posted on the White House website on Dec. 16, Biden said he had a productive call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“I briefed them on the most recent discussions that my staff and I have held with Senator Manchin about Build Back Better. In these discussions, Senator Manchin has reiterated his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September. I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition,” he said.

Biden also said that he will have ongoing discussions with Manchin next week.

“It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible,” he said.

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CNN reports that a source briefed on the conversations said that talks between the two over the bill were “very far apart,” and that given the state of the talks, Schumer was very likely to punt the bill into 2022.

Democrats also haven’t finished the legislative text, are still in a series of meetings with the Senate parliamentarian over whether the bill complies with Senate rules and are still negotiating elements of their own bill, with stiff disagreements brewing in their ranks over how to handle key provisions. One of the issues is the child tax credit, a Democratic Party priority that delivers aid to families and is key to the Biden administration’s effort to reduce child poverty, according to CNN.

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In a statement posted on Twitter late Dec. 16, ep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that “delaying passage of Build Back Better until 2022 would have immediate and devastating consequences,” and “the Senate cannot adjourn for the year until their work is done.”

“Progressives have worked diligently with the White House and Senate over the better part of this year to set up for this moment. The version of Build Back Better we passed out of the House was agreed to by nearly every Senator caucusing with the Democrats — and we sent it to the upper chamber based on the President’s promise that he could deliver the 50 Senators needed to make it law,” Jayapal added.

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