Manchin Sketches Smaller Bill

Senate Democrats hesitate, but some want any parts of Biden's original plan they can get
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2022 6:05 PM CST
Manchin Suggests Shrinking Build Back Better Package
Sen. Joe Manchin applauds as President Biden on Tuesday night. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is at the front, and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is next to Manchin.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

(Newser) – After listening to President Biden's State of the Union address Tuesday night, Sen. Joe Manchin outlined his own Build Back Better plan. It's much smaller than the president's proposal, but Manchin said his is a version he and other Democrats could back, the Hill reports. Many Senate Democrats could be wary of going through this again, per Politico, after negotiating with Manchin last year over the social spending legislation, only for the West Virginia Democrat to announce in December that he wouldn't vote for it.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, asked about whether a deal is possible, told a reporter, "I was hoping you would were going to, like, ask me to expound about Ukraine." Democrats have conceded that if anything passes, it will be nothing like the $1.7 trillion package Manchin blocked. His said his ideas haven't been formally presented to anybody. "There’s not a proposal, there’s just a conversation," Manchin said. His outline includes a few new programs, provided they're permanently funded. He backs changes to the tax code but didn't specify them. "I'm talking about a fair tax system," Manchin said.

Despite their frustration with Manchin, some Democrats are willing to consider anything that would get part of the package through Congress while they control both chambers. One part of the legislation that has not won Manchin's endorsement is an expanded child credit, and he didn't applaud Tuesday night when Biden mentioned it. In fact, Manchin sat with Republican senators for the speech, the only Democrat to do so, per Yahoo News. His spokesman said Manchin did that "to remind the American people and the world that bipartisanship works and is alive and well in the US Senate." (Read more Joe Manchin stories.)

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