Biden's Spending Bill Could Be in Big Trouble

President, Manchin said to be at standstill
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2021 2:54 AM CST
Biden Spending Bill Could Be in Big Trouble
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, to travel to Kentucky to survey storm damage from tornadoes and extreme weather.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The $1.75 trillion spending bill passed by the House of Representatives last month faces a very uncertain future in the Senate. Sources tell media outlets including the Washington Post, CNN, and the AP that Sen. Joe Manchin continues to be the issue, remaining unconvinced regarding the cost of the Build Back Better Act, which he has already negotiated down from its original $3.5 trillion price tag. Manchin wants every program in the bill to run for the entire decade-long duration of the bill, but the legislation currently only extends the child tax credit for one year. If the $300 monthly payments to roughly 35 million families are to be extended for the full 10 years, that alone could cost $1.4 trillion—but Manchin is said to be opposed to a bill totaling more than $1.75 trillion to $2 trillion (reports on the amount vary).

Media reports are painting Manchin as wanting to do away with the child tax credit entirely, with multiple sources claiming he wants it gone from the bill. But he's insisting to journalists that's not the case—sometimes aggressively. "This is bulls---. You're bulls---," Manchin told a Huffington Post reporter who asked him whether he could continue supporting the child tax credits, per the Hill. He had previously said, "I’m not opposed to child tax credit, I’ve never been opposed to child tax credit." He says he simply wants to be transparent about its true cost. It seems unlikely the Senate will reach a deal by Christmas, the Democrats' self-imposed deadline, and the AP notes it's "ominous" for the bill if negotiations go into next year, when elections will be held, since Democrats will need every member to vote yes on the legislation in the current 50-50 chamber.

While Democrats have considered trying to reauthorize the child tax credits, which will otherwise expire at the end of this month, along a track separate from the spending bill, it could be difficult to get the Republican votes that would then be necessary to do so. President Biden has had several phone calls with Manchin, but sources say those talks are at a standstill. Asked Wednesday whether Congress should pivot to another primary Democratic goal, voting rights, Biden said, "If we can get the congressional voting rights done, we should do it. There's nothing domestically more important than voting rights." (More Build Back Better Act stories.)

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