Senate Democrats Trying to Revive Build Back Better In Closed-Door Meetings

By Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.
April 18, 2022 Updated: April 18, 2022

The White House and congressional Democratic leaders have confirmed that the party will be taking another run at passing a spending bill under the reconciliation process after their first package, the Build Back Better Act (BBB), failed to win enough support in the Senate.

After months of negotiations between Democrats in the House and Senate, and the White House, the BBB was killed when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), citing concerns over continuing inflation, said that he could not support the package.

Since December, a small group of Democrats have continued to work behind the scenes to resurrect the package, but Manchin has suggested in the past that he had not been in communication with this group.

While Senate Democrats do have just enough votes to push a reconciliation package—which is immune to the filibuster under a longstanding Senate rule—they will need to have the unreserved support of every single Senate Democrat to overcome Republican objections.

“We have to come back and figure out what formula works with the 50 to get it passed in the Senate,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said of a potentially revamped BBB.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also acknowledged the effort to restart the BBB during a press conference.

“We’d like to move a reconciliation bill and go as far as we can, get as much done as we can with 50 votes,” Schumer told gathered reporters.

Despite the hurdles that such a package faces in the evenly-divided Senate, Manchin’s implied involvement in negotiations as one of the 50 Democratic votes is a sign of the renewed push to pass the legislation.

During their last go at passing the BBB, Manchin objected to a laundry list of proposals by his party, including a plan to have the IRS seize the bank information of all Americans’ accounts with more than $600 of activity per year and a proposal to grant tax benefits to unionized electric vehicle manufacturers. Manchin also objected to the overall price tag of the bill while the country is dealing with nearly unprecedented inflation.

In February 2022, amid continuing efforts by a handful of Democrats to iron out a new package, Manchin was asked about the future of the bill.

Build Back Better, Manchin replied, “is dead.”

Asked at the time whether he had been involved in negotiations, Manchin said that he had not.

However, Manchin is not the only Senate Democrat who may pose a risk to a renewed package.

During negotiations on the BBB, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also expressed doubts about the package, and joined Manchin in refusing to vote for the larger $3.5 trillion draft of the bill.

According to various reports, Sinema, who has long refused to “negotiate through the press,” indicated that she would oppose any effort to increase corporate or income tax rates, which were slashed by President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017.

It remains unclear whether Sinema has also been involved in these negotiations, as her support for the bill will be crucial if it is to pass through the Senate.

In addition, it will be a challenge for Democrats to balance the work of preparing a new bill while at the same time fighting tough midterm battles, in a season expected to see a great deal of Republican victories.

Still, despite the challenges to its passage, the closed-door meetings suggest the most dedicated effort yet by Democrats to renew the BBB since its failure in December.

If Democrats can win the support of Manchin and Sinema, the bill is likely to face few challenges in the House, where the bill passed in November with nearly unanimous support by Democrats.

Joseph Lord
Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times.