House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said over the weekend that she still believes President Biden’s massive social spending bill has a future, despite key moderate Sen. Joe Manchin saying last week that no negotiations were taking place.
“I do think there’s an agreement to be reached,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “It’s so important for our country.”
The speaker added that she has spoken with Manchin (D-WV) “over time,” and is not ready to back down on passing the measure.
“Whether we’re talking about the need for child care … home health care, all of those things,” Pelosi said. “In addition to that we see weather, and that weather is telling us that we must do what is in the bill to address the climate crisis which is causing so many unusual natural disasters.”
Pelosi’s comments aired one day after reports emerged that Manchin had pulled his proposal for a $1.8 trillion compromise bill.
Three unnamed sources familiar with the matter told the Washington Post that Manchin would vote “no” on a scaled-back version of the package that passed the House in November due to the White House’s response to his formal opposition to the $2 trillion bill.
In the compromise package, Manchin included funding for universal pre-K, an ObamaCare expansion, and a tax on billionaires — but left out the expanded child tax credit, a must-have for the party’s progressive wing.
He also objected to the House-passed legislation in mid-December, citing inflation and hidden costs that could potentially add $367 billion to the federal deficit.
With the Senate divided 50-50, Manchin’s vote is key to passing any legislation.
Last week, the West Virginian declined to discuss the bill with the press, emphasizing that there are “no negotiations going on at this time.”
“I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore because I think I’ve been very clear on that,” Manchin said on Jan. 4. “There is no negotiations going on at this time, OK?”
He noted that the legislation had “an awful lot of things. It had a lot of things that were very, I think, well-intended and there was a lot of things that was a pretty far reach on some things in the most delicate times that we have right now.”
“Our country’s divided,” Manchin added, “and I don’t intend to do anything that divides our country any more, so whatever I can do to unite and bring people together — and that means you have to work harder as you work across the aisle to bring people together.”
Since Manchin effectively spiked the bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shifted focus to passing a sweeping election reform measure, promising a vote on changing the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster rule before Jan. 17.
Pelosi defended the new focus on Sunday, saying it is “very appropriate.”
“There’s nothing more important for us to do than protect our Constitution and our democracy,” the speaker said. “What the Republicans are doing across the country is really a legislative continuation of what they did on January 6, which is to undermine our democracy, to undermine the integrity of our elections, to undermine the voting power, which is the essence of a democracy.”
“We have to do that bill,” Pelosi continued. “There is no more important bill that enables us to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”