“What Build Back Better bill?” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said incredulously when asked by reporters Tuesday about progress on the legislation.
“I don’t know what you all are talking about,” he continued. “No, no, no — it’s dead.”
And with that, Manchin drove a spike into the heart of President Joe Biden’s signature legislation, which he had already shot down late last year.
After dragging negotiations out for months, he left the bargaining table in December, later citing his anger with how he’d been treated by White House staffers.
There has been chatter about reassembling some pieces of the package Manchin supported into a new, smaller bill — and these remarks don’t clearly preclude that possibility.
He indicated to reporters later on Tuesday that he remains open to potential future work touching on the issues in the reconciliation package — he specifically mentioned raising taxes on the wealthy and lowering prescription drug costs, two provisions of the bill that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) vetoed — but that the comprehensive bill as it was is “gone.”
When asked by reporters about other provisions he once supported in Build Back Better like universal pre-K, he ended the conversation.
The forecast has looked fairly grim ever since Manchin took his old offer for the package off the table, saying he wants to start all over again.
A varied group of House Democrats gathered Monday to emphasize the importance of the climate provisions in the reconciliation package, and to lobby for moving forward with something that keeps them intact.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said late last week that her conversations with Manchin post-negotiation blowup have led her to believe that there are still pieces of the package he wants to pass.
But the Senate has pivoted to other legislative priorities in the meantime. After Manchin, assisted by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), stymied Democrats’ hope of passing voting legislation, momentum has turned to different election reform proposals that may garner Republican support.