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Democrats not giving up on Biden's social spending bill and talks with Manchin

President Joe Biden
Posted at 8:05 AM, Dec 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden appears determined to return to the negotiating table with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Biden says he and the West Virginia Democrat will, as Biden put it, "get something done."

The president's remarks at the White House on Tuesday were his first since Manchin effectively tanked the party's signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative with his own jarring year-end announcement.

"If I can't go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can't vote for it," Manchin said in an appearance on Fox News on Sunday.

Later in the evening Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also struck a determined tone, telling Senate Democrats on a 90-minute video call to expect a vote in January on the package as they push toward a deal.

The legislation, dubbed the Build Back Better Act, aims to increase social spending for childcare, eldercare, and climate change initiatives. The bill would be financed by increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

By pulling his support, Manchin, a Democrat, effectively sank the bill's chances in the evenly-split Senate. No Republican has announced support for the legislation.

Manchin is perhaps the most moderate member of the Democratic caucus. His home state of West Virginia easily voted for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and Manchin is the only Democrat in West Virginia to hold a statewide elected office.

Democrats worked with Manchin for months to make the bill more palatable for his constituents. Those changes included removing a requirement that employers offer paid family leave to new parents and incentives for power utilities to move away from fossil fuels, including one of West Virginia's most abundant natural resources, coal.

However, Democrats' exceptions have not gone far enough, Manchin said Sunday. He says he remains concerned about high inflation rates and the growing national debt.

"I had my reservations when I heard about (the bill) five-and-a-half months ago. I've been working diligently every day, and every minute of every day I've been working on this — whether it be President Biden or Majority Leader Schumer and his staff, whether it be Nancy Pelosi — all of my colleagues from all different political spectrums from the right to the left," Manchin said. "I've done everything humanly possible."