Democrats ‘don’t give up’ Biden Bill, hold talks with Manchin | Business and finance

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden appears determined to return to the negotiating table with Senator Joe Manchin, the recalcitrant Democrat who effectively thwarted the party’s $ 2 trillion domestic policy initiative with his own announcement shocking end of the year.

Biden, responding to questions from reporters Tuesday at the White House, joked that he had no hard feelings against the conservative West Virginia senator whose rejection of the social services and climate change bill stunned Washington just a few days ago.

Instead, the president spoke passionately about the families who would benefit from the ambitious, though now highly uncertain, plan of Democrats to spend billions of dollars on child care, health care and other services. .

“Sen. Manchin and I are going to do something,” Biden said.

The president’s improvised remarks are his first public statement as Democrats struggle to pick up the pieces of Manchin’s announcement this weekend that he would not support the bill, as is. Manchin essentially crushed Biden’s sweeping political move in the 50-50 Senate, siding with all Republicans who oppose the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also adopted a determined tone later on Tuesday, telling Senate Democrats in a 90-minute video call to expect a January vote on the package as they are heading for a deal.

Schumer acknowledged the frustration among Democrats, but told senators the party was “not dropping” the proposal, according to a Democrat on the private call who provided details on the condition of anonymity.

But Democrats face serious questions as to whether the $ 2 trillion initiative can be reshaped to win its crucial vote or whether the party will face a devastating defeat.

Manchin and his party are so estranged from each other, their relationship so bruised after months of fruitless talks that it’s not even clear how they get back to the negotiating table, let alone revive the sprawling bill. on social services and climate change over 2,100 pages.

Biden has spoken emphatically about the economic pressures that rob the “dignity of a parent” trying to pay the bills, and the help millions of people could receive from the federal government with the legislation. He also said his plan would help ease inflationary pressures and pointed to analyzes suggesting it would stimulate the economy.

“I want to get things done,” Biden said. “I still think that it is possible to rebuild better. “

The setback has cast deep doubt on Biden’s legislative effort at a critical time, wrapping up the end of the president’s first year and ahead of Congressional midterm elections when Democrats’ weak grip on Congress is threatened.

Coupled with strong Republican opposition, Manchin’s vote is vital on this initiative and others, including the Democrats’ priority voting rights legislation that Schumer said would come to an early vote.

On Tuesday, Schumer said if Republicans continued to block voting rights legislation in January, the Senate would bring forward proposals to change Senate rules, the Democrat said on the call. It’s a nod to long-drawn-out efforts to adjust or end the filibuster, which typically requires a 60-vote threshold for action to move forward.

While Manchin said he couldn’t explain the bill to voters in West Virginia, a union representing coal miners, some of the nearly 12,000 in his home state, issued a statement urging the legislator to “review its opposition” to the package.

Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, described the benefits the package could bring to union members, including those in West Virginia, which is the most coal dependent state in the country.

Some of these provisions include language that would expand the current fees paid by coal companies to fund benefits received by victims of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung. The bill would also provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coalfields, potentially employing miners who have lost their jobs, according to the union.

Next steps remain highly uncertain for the president and his party, with Congress suspended for the holidays.

The White House appeared to be interested in Manchin’s preference for a reinvented bill that would tackle a few major priorities, for a longer duration, rather than the multi-faceted and sweeping version adopted by the House.

But it will be extremely difficult for progressive and centrist Democrats to restore confidence to launch a new round of negotiations that has devoted much of Biden’s first year in office to what is now essentially a collapsed effort.

The comprehensive package was among the largest of its kind ever considered in Congress, freeing up billions of dollars to help American families across the country – almost all paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

For families with children, it would offer free kindergarten and childcare assistance. There are subsidies for health insurance premiums, lower prescription drug costs, and expanded access to Medicaid in states that do not yet offer it. The bill would launch a new hearing aid program for the elderly. And it includes more than $ 500 billion to reduce carbon emissions, a number considered the largest federal spending ever to fight climate change.

A potential new deadline for Biden and his party comes with the expiration of an expanded child tax credit that has sent up to $ 300 per month directly to the bank accounts of millions of families. If Congress doesn’t act, the money won’t come in January.

Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Colleen Long contributed to this report.

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