The Build Back Better package, which was President Biden’s major spending priority during his first year in office, crashed and burned in December after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced his opposition to the bill. The bill would have funded the expanded child tax credit, which Manchin specifically opposed due to its lack of work requirements.
Now, following the State of the Union address, the White House is hoping to revive the legislation in some form, although almost certainly not under the Build Back Better name and without all of the provisions that were part of the package that passed the House.
Recent reporting offered some indications of what such a bill might look like. According to Politico, Manchin is ready to return to talks with his fellow Democrats, and he has a few specific things in mind.
Manchin’s priorities, according to the Politico report, are to “lower the deficit and enact some new programs—provided they are permanently funded.” This would entail repealing some of the Trump administration’s tax cuts and allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices. This would pay for some of the priorities in the Build Back Better plan, including climate initiatives. But in light of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Manchin wants money for all kinds of energy.
“You want to be able to defend your people, have reliable, dependable, and affordable power? You have to use ‘all of the above,’” the senator said to Politico. “They say ‘Manchin doesn’t care … he’s killing the environment.’ I’m not killing anything.”
Not included in Manchin’s listed priorities was anything related to the child tax credit. One House Democrat, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), told Politico that she was interested in changing Manchin’s mind on the tax credit. Any compromise agreed to in the Senate, of course, would still need to pass the closely divided House.
A Washington Post op-ed published on Wednesday noted that Manchin had sat with the Republicans during the State of the Union address. “This is his way of saying he’s open for business,” one congressional aide told the Post, in reference to Manchin’s Politico comment. “We need to take this deal immediately,” the aide added.
There are still other scenarios for a deal. “With about $300 billion in savings from lowering drug costs, plus a portion of the revenues from higher taxes, it should be possible to extend premium help to ACA enrollees and cover people left out of Medicaid,” Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Post.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.