Schumer to Hold a Biden-Plan Vote, Even Lacking Majority Support
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate will vote “very early” in 2022 on President Joe Biden’s economic agenda despite moderate Democrat Joe Manchin’s rejection of the roughly $2 trillion package, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.
“Senators should be aware that the Senate will, in fact, consider the Build Back Better Act, very early in the new year so that every member of this body has the opportunity to make their position known on the Senate floor, not just on television,” Schumer said Monday in a letter to fellow Democrats.
Manchin blindsided the White House on Sunday with his rejection of the roughly $2 trillion package. Schumer’s letter shows Democratic leaders plan to make Manchin go on record with his objections.
Schumer also said in his Monday letter that Democrats would hold a special caucus meeting Tuesday to discuss the path forward and that the Senate would “keep voting on it until we get something done.”
“We simply cannot give up,” he said. “We must and we will keep fighting to deliver for working families.”
Manchin’s announcement caught the White House off guard, coming after weeks of negotiations between Biden and the West Virginia Democrat and just a day after the Senate adjourned for the holidays, in the hopes of regrouping in the new year.
The White House and Schumer now must determine whether they can salvage some of the tax-and-spending bill to address Manchin’s demands while maintaining the support of the rest of the fractious Democratic caucus.
Several moderates suggested trimming the bill by cutting the number of programs, but such a bill would be a tough sell because each lawmaker would fight for their own competing priorities to be included.
Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders and other progressives called on Schumer to force a vote on Sunday in order to dare Manchin to vote the bill down. Manchin said he would be fine with the Senate holding such votes.
Schumer’s move is a risky one because it could harden Manchin’s position on the bill if he votes against it. The move could also create risks for senators up for re-election in 2022 by putting them on the record supporting controversial provisions that never become law.
Supporters of the measure are eager to enact it early in the year because child tax credit payments run out in mid-January.
The collapse of talks over Biden’s economic agenda risks further fueling disenchantment among the Democratic base with the president, who’s already under fire from supporters for not doing enough to expand voting rights and racial equity.
Schumer in his letter to colleagues said the Senate in early January also would take another run at voting rights legislation that’s been thwarted repeatedly amid Republican opposition.
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