- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sen. Ben Cardin said Sunday that Democrats are focused on hammering out a revised version of President Biden’s Build Back Better bill that can muster enough support to pass through Congress.

The Maryland Democrat said Mr. Biden is directly involved in ongoing negotiations over the cornerstone of his domestic agenda.

“There is unanimity in our caucus that we want to get a bill to the president,” Mr. Cardin said on Fox News Sunday.

Mr. Biden’s proposal passed the House but stalled out in the Senate, where Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, joined Republicans in opposing the current version of the $1.7 trillion legislation.

Democrats are holding out hope Mr. Manchin will come around to support the package. At the same time, they are weighing whether to split up the proposal into various separate pieces of legislation.

As it stands, the Build Back Better bill represents some of the broadest social welfare and climate change legislation ever considered in Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has pledged to hold a vote on the bill once lawmakers return to Capitol Hill in January. 

Mr. Schumer is betting the move will force Mr. Manchin to go on record opposing several of the package’s more popular provisions, including universal pre-kindergarten and expanded Medicare benefits for seniors.

“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,” Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat, said in a letter to his colleagues last week. “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.”

Democrats have the thinnest of majorities in the 50-50 Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote.

Mr. Cardin suggested on Sunday that negotiations are active.

“At the end of the day I think Sen. Manchin understands the importance of getting a bill to the president to deal with many of the issues that are in Build Back Better,” the senator said.

“I think we can reach that sweet spot,” he said. “A lot of us are going to be disappointed, but we are not going to let perfection be the enemy of getting something done.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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