WASHINGTON, (AP) The Senate voted against Democrats’ massive social and environmental package. It was a rejection of Sen. Joe Manchin’s hopes for an agreement. On Thursday, leaders seemed to have lost all hope of reaching an agreement with him.
After a closed door lunch among Senate Democrats Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters that President Joe Biden was expected to issue a statement shortly providing an update on his conversations. Biden and Manchin are trying to cut and reform the measure. However, talks on the $10 trillion bill have been reported to have failed to make much progress.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had set Senate passage before Christmas as his goal. However, disputes with Manchin, D.W.Va., and other Democrats remain. It has become apparent that the party seeks explicit intervention from Biden in hopes that he will make a deal to Manchin, D-W.Va. or urge lawmakers not to act until January.
Biden “wants it done as soon as possible,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said to reporters. She also added, “But, we understand that it will take time and were going on with the work.”
Schumer did not mention legislation as the day began. Instead, he described Democrats efforts in breaking the logjam on voting rights legislation as well as a pile of nominations that the Senate will review as we continue to work to get to a point where the Senate can move forward with the social and environmental bill.
Manchin is using his influence in a Senate with 50-50 Democrats, where Democrats must unanimity for the bill to pass. He continues his push to get his party to reduce its cost and eliminate programs that he opposes. All Republicans oppose this package, arguing that the bill, which includes many of Bidens top domestic priorities, is too costly and would worsen inflation.
Washington’s best Christmas gift to working families would be to put this bad bill on the ice,” said Mitch McConnell, R.Ky.
A person speaking only under anonymity described Wednesday’s rocky Biden-Manchin talks. According to the person, Manchin wanted to end the bill’s renewal for expanded benefits under the Child Tax Credit, which is a keystone in Democratic efforts to reduce child poverty.
Wednesday’s Manchin said to reporters that rumors about his desire to remove the child tax credit improvement programs were false. When asked if Manchin supported eliminating one of the child credit improvements monthly checks sent millions of families by the bill, he responded that he did not.
Biden suggested that Democrats should prioritize voting rights legislation instead of rushing to the Senate this year, which is a primary goal that Republicans have long blocked. While Democrats face a difficult fight on the voting measure issue, focusing on it would allow them to wage a battle that energizes their voters while lawmakers work behind-the scenes on the social/environment bill.
Biden responded to reporters when asked whether Congress should immediately consider the voting legislation and defer the $2 trillion bill for next year. He stated, “Voting rights in the United States are more important than anything else.” Biden spoke Wednesday while he was touring the destruction caused by tornadoes in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.
It would be very bad for the bill’s future prospects if the legislation on social and environmental issues was allowed to slip into next year’s congressional elections.
After Democrats have pushed past the deadlines previously set, any further delay could fuel Republican accusations of incompetence in running a government they own. The GOP has a realistic chance of winning control over the Senate and House of Representatives in November elections, so Democrats are preparing for that.
The stance of Manchin sparked a backlash from his colleagues. He’s been frustrated for months by constant demands to reduce the bill’s scope and size. The bill also includes money for universal prekindergarten, climate change programs, and health care. It is largely funded by tax increases on the wealthy and big corporations.
Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, stated that Democrats are very emotional about the child credit and was stunned to learn of Manchin’s demands.
Manchin wants the overall bill’s 10-year cost to be below $2 trillion. He also wants all of its programs to last a full decade.
The current bill would extend for one year the enhanced child tax credit, which is a way to limit the bill’s costs. Renewing the enhanced benefits for a further 10 years would raise its cost by over $100 billion per year, which would mean that the bill’s overall size would be reduced. This would also impact Democrats’ other priorities.
The Treasury Department claims that the expanded tax credit has helped families with 61 million children.
Another obstruction for Democrats is the slow and tedious review by Elizabeth MacDonough (Senate parliamentarian) about whether the bill’s provisions are in violation of the chamber’s rules. If so, then the bill should be dropped. Her written opinions regarding that, including provisions that allow many migrants to temporarily remain in the U.S., might not be ready until the weekend, or later.
Manchin also demanded that the new requirement for paid family leaves be removed. Other lawmakers are disputing how to increase federal tax deductions for local and state taxes.
In November, the House approved the legislation as it was.