- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A conservative advocacy group is spending $1.5 million on ads pressuring Sen. Joe Manchin III and other moderate Democrats to oppose resuscitating President Biden’s big-spending Build Back Better Act.

The Common Sense Leadership Fund, which has strong ties to the congressional Republican leadership, launched ads Tuesday that target Mr. Manchin in his home state West Virginia. The ads urge the lawmaker to oppose any effort by the White House to resurrect the $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill, officially called the Build Back Better Act.

“Joe Manchin already killed off Biden’s radical agenda. Now Biden is bringing it back,” a narrator in one of the ads states. “New name, same liberal agenda.”

Similar ads target Sen. Jon Tester, a moderate Democrat from Montana. The campaign will run on both television and digital platforms throughout West Virginia and Montana.

Last month, Mr. Manchin single-handedly derailed Mr. Biden’s big bill when he announced his opposition, despite months of negotiations with fellow Democrats to win his support. 

Mr. Manchin said that America could not afford all of the new spending and that it would also risk more inflation.

Mr. Biden needed all 50 Democrats on board to force the package through in a party-line vote.

Since then, Mr. Manchin has said that while he would be open to restarting the negotiations “from scratch” Congress should address more pressing business first, such as addressing runaway inflation.

Kevin McLaughlin, the president of the Common Sense Leadership Fund, warned that Democrats won’t give up the $1.75 trillion plan that would have been the largest expansion of the social safety net since the 1960’s Great Society.

“Despite crushing defeats, [Democrats] keep emerging from the flames to resume their mission to remake America in their dystopian vision,” he said. “All red-state Democrat senators need to stand up for the people who elected them and put this disastrous spending bill in a vat of molten steel and destroy it once and for all so America can move forward.”

Mr. Biden is pledging to break up the spending package and pass it in “chunks.”

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for” other elements after the midterm elections in the fall,” the president said during a White House press conference earlier this month.

Mr. Biden said the focus this year will be on passing the package’s early childhood education and climate-change provisions. Top priorities for Mr. Biden and the party’s base are restoring an expired child tax credit that makes direct payments to parents and establishing tuition-free community colleges.

“What the president calls ‘chunks’ I would hope would be a major bill going forward,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “It may be more limited, but it is still significant.”

It remains to be seen whether even a piecemeal approach will work with the massive bill, which is the bulk of Mr. Biden’s economic agenda.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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