Sen Joe Manchin III on Tuesday shot down President Biden’s calls to revive the administration’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate package, known as the Build Back Better Act.
Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat and key swing vote in the evenly split Senate, said that Mr. Biden’s calls to bring back portions of the package were surprising.
“They just can’t help themselves,” Mr. Manchin said. “I don’t know where that came from, nothing’s changed.”
During his first state of the union address Tuesday, Mr. Biden sought to recast the spending proposal as an inflation and deficit remedy.
“My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit,” Mr. Biden said. “Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures.”
Mr. Biden ticked off several key provisions within the spending bill, including allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs and subsidized child care, as proof.
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“When we invest in our workers, when we build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out together,” Mr. Biden said. “We can do something we haven’t done in a long time: build a better America.”
Mr. Manchin does not appear to believe the rhetoric.
“I’ve never found out that you can lower costs by spending more,” he said.
His comments are the latest signal that Democrats face an uphill battle in trying to revive the package after Mr. Manchin single-handedly killed it last year.
Given solid GOP opposition, the only hope Democrats have for passage is using a party-line procedure known as budget reconciliation. The process allows some tax-and-spending measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority.
Reconciliation proved impossible last year when Mr. Manchin signaled his opposition over fears the legislation would exacerbate inflation. At the moment, little seems to have changed.
“There might be parts they want to talk about. I don’t know,” Mr. Manchin said. “That was a little bit far.”