Feb. 2 (UPI) — Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Tuesday said the current version of the Build Back Better bill is “dead,” while indicating he was open to further talks with the White House.
Manchin has long objected to the key social and climate spending legislation that is central to President Joe Biden’s agenda and dismissed the possibility of the bill passing in its current form when asked about the status of the legislation on Tuesday.
“What Build Back Better bill? There is no, I mean, I don’t know what you all are talking about,” he said.
When asked if he has had discussions on the proposal, Manchin replied, “No, no, no, it’s dead.”
Manchin added, however, that he would be open to any new discussions on legislation.
“Whatever we are going to come up with, anything you want to be put on the table, we can talk about,” he said.
in December, the Senator said he would not vote for the bill, citing factors including inflation worries, the COVID-19 pandemic and “geopolitical unrest,” which he reiterated Tuesday.
“My main concern is inflation. The high costs to everyone in my state and around the country I hear from,” Manchin said. “And also the geopolitical unrest we have in Ukraine. That’s going to be a big cost, some sooner than later. And on top of that: COVID. We have to see which way COVID goes, and what effect it’s going to have on our economy. Those are still the driving forces.”
Manchin’s disapproval has stalled the bill as in the evenly split Senate it would require votes from all 50 Democrats to pass without Republican support through a process known as reconciliation.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that she would not comment on private conversations with Manchin “or any other senators about this piece of legislation, or our efforts moving forward,” when asked about his comments Tuesday.
Psaki added that lawmakers have still expressed support for many of the key policies included in the bill, such as lower costs for child care and Medicare.
“Whatever you call that, there is strong support for that, there is strong passion for that, a lot of advocacy for that, and there are a lot of members having continued conversations about it,” she said.