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Senate Democratic leaders expect President Joe Biden to resume talks with moderate West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin on reviving the “Build Back Better” agenda, even after Manchin told reporters that there were no ongoing negotiations between him and Biden.
According to a report from The Hill, at a virtual Democratic meeting Tuesday afternoon, Senators agreed to “take a deep breath and step back from the heated debate over Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending plan to give Manchin some space” to restart negotiations between the two, after Manchin told Fox News’s Bret Baier that he would not vote in favor of the “Build Back Better” bill.
“Bret, this is a mammoth piece of legislation and I had my reservations from the beginning,” Manchin began, adding that he had been working every day to find a way to make the numbers work and find a compromise that would work for all involved.
“I’ve always said this, Bret: if I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it, and I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there,” Manchin said at the time.
Manchin’s December comments seemed to be the nail in the coffin for “Build Back Better,” but Democrats were optimistic that taking BBB out of the limelight would prove fruitful in negotiations.
“We all acknowledge, understand there’s a cooling off period and we need to give a little distance to Manchin and Biden on this so they can come back together and try again,” one Democratic senator, who was present at the lunch meeting, told The Hill anonymously.
“My guess is there will be a very significant reworking of the bill,” the Senator added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also said he expects Biden and Manchin to resume negotiations.
“I believe the Biden administration will be having discussions with Manchin, with his cooperation and participation on BBB as we move forward,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday, according to The Hill.
Manchin previously told reporters at a press gaggle Tuesday that there was “no negotiation” going on between himself and Biden. The Daily Wire reported:
“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better because I think I’ve been very clear on that. There is no negotiation going on at this time,” Manchin told the press outside of his office on Tuesday.
Politico Playbook further noted, “Senate Majority Whip [Dick Durbin] said as much this morning, noting that Democrats probably won’t return to BBB work until after addressing voting rights, a debate that’s likely to extend through Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
Politico reported, “Democrats had hoped the year-end expiration of the expanded child tax credit might cajole Manchin into a deal. But his concerns are far broader and would require a significant rewrite of the legislation, extending to the bill’s short-term programs and longer-term financing.”
Manchin reportedly made the suggestion that centering the legislation on climate issues could be more successful.
“The climate thing is one that we probably could come to an agreement much easier than anything else,” Manchin said.