- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2021

Democrats and Republicans are trading arguments over President Biden’s social welfare bill, with much of the back-and-forth focused on influencing Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who remains a key vote on the proposed multitrillion-dollar legislation.

Democrats find themselves racing to pass the bill before the looming holiday recess deadline. In a Monday “Dear Colleague” letter, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York repeated his goal to pass the bill before Christmas.

However, the party still hasn’t won over the support of Mr. Manchin, whose vote in the 50/50 Senate is necessary for final passage. 

“We have to get this done, Jake. And Senator [Joe] Manchin is still at the negotiating table,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” referencing Mr. Manchin’s reservations about the president’s “Build Back Better” legislation.

Joe Manchin is someone — he gets our country. He gets the plight of so many people in West Virginia and how they’ve been having to pay more for prescription drug prices. He’s been actually a strong proponent of taking on [major pharmaceutical companies] to bring down prescription drug prices,” the Minnesota Democrat said.

She added that she is optimistic Mr. Manchin will eventually support the bill.

SEE ALSO: Biden to meet Manchin to persuade him on $1.9 trillion social spending bill

Republicans, meanwhile are sending their own messages to the West Virginia lawmaker.

The legislation came back from the Congressional Budget Office on Friday with a new GOP-requested analysis that shows the price tag will be much higher than Democrats have acknowledged if key measures in the bill do not sunset.

The CBO estimated that the Build Back Better Act would increase the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years if all of the included provisions were made permanent, according to the report.

Joe Manchin has been wanting to know without gimmicks what would the bill cost. We now know it more than doubles. … I’ve done what Sen. Manchin said somebody should do,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican said Friday. 

“What I think will happen is that Joe will take these numbers and he will start making decisions about what comes next, and my hope is that Sen. Manchin will say, ‘Stop, shelve Build Back Better until we find better answers to where inflation is headed,’” Mr. Graham added.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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