Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., told reporters Monday he planned to bring up his concerns about inflation and the cost of his Build Back Better bill when he talked to President Joe Biden by phone later in the afternoon.
But as Manchin’s caution raises the specter of further delays in passage of a social and environmental package the Biden administration is eager to enact, others are pushing Congress to move on BBB as soon as possible — before Christmas, ideally.
Indeed, according to The Hill, a group of more than 450 organizations is calling on the Senate to pass Biden’s $2 trillion package, which has already been approved by the House, before adjourning for for holiday.
The organizations are asking senators to reject any amendments that would weaken the racial equity impacts of the child tax credit and not step away for their recess until the upper chamber has passed the legislation.
The Hill said signers of Monday’s letter included: Economic Security Project Action, Center for American Progress, the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Urban League, the NAACP, the National Women’s Law Center and UnidosUS.
Manchin, whose fiscally conservative leanings have slowed passage because Dems, with their slender Senate majority, can’t afford to lose his vote, is in less of a rush, particularly as inflation continues to spiral upward.
“Inflation is real, it’s not transitory. It’s alarming. It’s going up, not down. And I think that should be something we’re concerned about. And geopolitical fallout,” Manchin said, according to The Hill.
Manchin was talking about Russia’s military buildup on the border of Ukraine in reference to geopolitics.
“These are all concerns,” he said. “The unknown right now is very, very great.”
To secure Senate passage, Dems need all 50 of their senators to sign on, with Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, serving as tie-breaker.
“I know people have been in a hurry for a long time to do something, but basically I think we’re seeing things unfold that allows us to prepare better,” Manchin said.
Though Democrats have made changes to address Manchin’s concerns on several issues, an economic report released Friday showed inflation at a 40-year high. The White House is trying to sell the bill as a counter to inflation, a measure that would ultimately pay for itself.
But a Congressional Budget Office report suggested the bill would cost taxpayers $3 trillion more than estimated if all programs in it are made permanent.
Democrats countered that the report, which was requested by Republicans, was for a bill that doesn’t exist.
Manchin on Monday called the information “very sobering,” adding that when he speaks with Biden, “We’re going to talk about exactly what happened on Friday with the CBO score and inflation reports and things of that sort.”
The Patriot Depot’s Jeffrey Rubin contributed to this report.