- The Senate will vote on the Build Back Better Act in January despite Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to the bill, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced.
- Manchin dealt a crushing blow to President Joe Biden's top domestic priority, which would invest in the social safety net and green-energy programs.
- It is unclear if Democrats will try to pass a smaller bill that includes only parts of the Build Back Better Act.
- The enhanced child tax credit, which the bill would renew, expires at the end of the year.
The Senate will vote on President Joe Biden's sweeping social safety net and climate policy bill in January despite Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to it.
"Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every Member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Democrats on Monday.
"We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act – and we will keep voting on it until we get something done," he said.
Manchin dealt a crushing blow to the bill — at least in its current form — when he announced his opposition to it on Sunday. The senator alone can sink the legislation as Democrats try to pass it with a simple majority vote in the 50-50 Senate.
"I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can't," Manchin told "Fox News Sunday." "I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there."
The senator, who represents a coal-producing state and has a personal stake in the industry, cited concerns about inflation and the national debt in explaining his opposition. He also said Democrats should focus their efforts on containing the coronavirus pandemic as the highly-mutated omicron variant spreads around the country.
Manchin privately told Democratic senators in recent months that he was worried low-income parents would use child tax credit money to buy drugs, NBC News reported, citing three sources familiar with the comments. HuffPost, which first reported Manchin's comments, wrote that several senators saw his remarks as "an unfair assault on his own constituents and those struggling to raise children in poverty."
In a statement responding to the report, Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon said, "Senator Manchin has made clear he supports the child tax credit and believes the money should be targeted to those who need it most. He has also expressed support for a paid leave program that has a dedicated, sustainable funding mechanism."
While the bill will likely fail when Schumer brings it to a vote, the Democratic leader wants to put every senator's position on the record. The Senate has left Washington for the year, so a vote would not come until January.
Manchin's announcement marks the biggest setback yet for the Build Back Better Act, Biden's top domestic priority. After a months long tug-of-war within the party about what the bill should include and what it should cost, the plan's progress has ground to a halt.
In response to the bill's likely failure, Goldman Sachs cut its U.S. GDP growth forecast on Monday.
If Democrats fail to pass the proposal, their top policy goals are in jeopardy. The bill would extend the enhanced child tax credit, expand Medicare and Medicaid, invest in child-care services and incentivize green-energy adoption — a package of policies that Democrats have billed as transformative.
It is unclear if the party will try to pass a smaller bill that includes only parts of the Build Back Better Act. The House approved the full $1.75 trillion legislation in November, and progressives in the chamber hammered Manchin on Sunday for opposing the package.
Some Democrats have put a premium on extending the enhanced child tax credit of up to $300 per child per month, which expires at the end of the year. Advocates see it as critical to cutting child poverty.
In an interview Monday with West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval, Manchin said he wanted to see his party send the bill back to congressional committees. He also said he supported his party's budget resolution — which unlocks the reconciliation process that allows Democrats to pass a bill without GOP votes — because he wanted to "fix" U.S. corporate and income tax rates "so that everybody paid their fair share."
Manchin opposed the bill even after Democrats slashed its price tag in half in order to win his support. They also scrapped a key climate program that the senator opposed.
In a statement responding to Manchin's stance Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the senator "reversed his position on Build Back Better this morning," and "we will continue to press him to see if he will reverse his position yet again, to honor his prior commitments and be true to his word."
Psaki signaled the White House will try to revive the legislation in some form.
"The fight for Build Back Better is too important to give up. We will find a way to move forward next year," she said.
In the radio interview, Manchin blamed Biden's staff rather than the president himself for the collapse of recent talks around the bill. He said "they drove some things and they put some things out that were absolutely inexcusable."