WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrats have started to pick up the pieces of President Joe Biden’s stalled domestic agenda, working with the White House to rebrand it as a push to cut costs for families and zero in on a package that can win the decisive vote of West Virginia centrist Sen. Joe Manchin.
Just don’t name it “Build Back Better” or sell it as a bill to remake the United States. Those parameters have been dropped, a tacit recognition by Democratic leaders that Manchin had been alienated.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hinted at what might be included in a revamped package that Democrats might pass without GOP backing in a fresh letter to colleagues on Monday.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, Senate Democrats have filed additional legislative ideas to combat rising prices of energy, prescription medications, and health care, as well as the costs of raising a family,” he wrote.
Last week, Biden included a number of initiatives that Manchin said he supports in his State of the Union address, including prescription medication savings through Medicare talks, clean energy funds, and making health insurance financing permanent. Biden also advocated for higher taxes on the affluent and companies to help “reduce the deficit,” a goal for Manchin.
“Stay on top of your finances. Only one thing unites all Democrats: we voted against the Republican tax cuts of 2017. “We think they were weighted unfairly,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “Fix it if there’s one item on which you’re all in agreement.”
“There are no formal talks going on,” he continued.
Manchin outlined his demands for how the savings should be used in a new filibuster-proof bill last week.
He told reporters, “Half of that money should be committed to fighting inflation and decreasing the deficit.” “For the other half, you can choose a 10-year programme based on what you believe is the most important.” It appears to be the environment right now.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a centrist, said he’s started thinking about how to spend some of the deficit reduction money.
He said, “I’ve got some very specific ideas on how we could devote some of the revenues raised, for example, to extending the life of Medicare.” “The debt is around $30 trillion – it’s unsustainable.”
In his letter, Schumer specifically stated that Senate committees will “conduct new hearings and mark-ups on Democrats’ cost-cutting measures” in March and April, beginning with a Finance Committee hearing on prescription drug cost-cutting next week. Another Manchin demand would be to get the policies through committee and give Republicans a chance to comment.