May 23, 2022

Pelosi: Build Back Better may be reconfigured to boost chances of passage

Apparently unwilling to concede defeat on her attempts to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better social spending package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested Thursday that she and her Democrat colleagues may rename some of its key elements in a stubborn effort to resuscitate the White House agenda, as The Hill reports.

The speaker’s remarks were made in response to a suggestion made by Biden during a Wednesday press conference in which he stated that given the difficulties the expansive package encountered in the Senate, the package previously passed in the House might have to be split into “chunks” and reassembled into something that could win the support of holdouts such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” said the president, suggesting that the child tax credit and free community college tuition were among the elements that might need to be excised, at least for the time being, according to Reuters.

While Pelosi was hesitant to endorse Biden’s description of “chunks,” she did seem on board with the notion that the package likely had no future unless elements of it were thinned or eliminated altogether.

During a press conference of her own, Pelosi said, “‘Chunks’ is an interesting word. So what the president calls’ chunks’ I would hope would be a major bill going forward,” noting that a rebranded and reconfigured package may “be more limited, but it is still significant.”

Pelosi listed which of the bill’s provisions she believes are must-haves in any rebranded bill, and they included those related to fighting climate change, an expansion of health care coverage, prescription drug price reform, universal pre-kindergarten, and the enhanced child tax credit.

Those aims appear โ€“ at least in part โ€“ to be at odds with what the White House believes Manchin will support, with the president himself saying on Wednesday that the tax credit may be a non-starter for a reimagined bill, given that the West Virginia Democrat has continued to express concerns about high-income families remaining eligible for the payouts.

Some Democrats, however, appear reluctant to give up so easily when it comes to the child tax credit, with Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, declaring on Thursday that he has not been told by the White House that the child tax credit has already been cast aside, adding, “We need to determine what Joe Manchin is in favor of. I certainly am not ready to throw in the towel on it.”

With Republicans surging and a red wave predicted to sweep the nation this fall, it seems more likely than not that Pelosi and Biden’s social spending ambitions have hit an impenetrable brick wall, but it appears the speaker is not ready to go down without a fight โ€“ in whatever feeble form that may take.

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