OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Build Back Better is dead but The White House wants to bring it back. Unfortunately for President Joe Biden there is one Democrat senator who is standing in the way.
Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has informed her supporters in private that the bill is, for all intents and purposes, dead, Axios reported.
“In closed-door conversations, Sinema has told donors a path to revival is unlikely. That’s dampened expectations Congress will act on a slimmed-down bill before Memorial Day. It also means any revived BBB legislation faces an arduous route back to the center of the Senate agenda,” the report said.
“Sinema’s telling donors most of her focus is on the $10 billion COVID-19 relief bill, the so-called China competition legislation and modifications to the Electoral Reform Act,” it said.
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin said he is not opposed to doing a smaller version of the plan.
“Really, I can’t give you a reading on it, if there’s anything serious about this. You have chatter, and we talk to everybody. And there’s nothing serious,” he said to Politico. Asked if that could change nhe said, “It could. After next week, we’ll see, after the judge and all that, maybe things will pick up.”
There’s plenty of skepticism to go around regarding Democrats’ prospects for success. One Democrat who regularly talks to Manchin doubted whether any party-line bill checking his boxes is achievable at this point, citing the mismatch between Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s (D-Ariz.) and Manchin’s tax positions. The Arizona Democrat prefers surtaxes on the wealthy and big corporations, not the tax rate increases that Manchin likes.
Mike Casca, a spokesperson for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), put it this way about the chances of getting anything done: “I’d love to be wrong, but I’m not holding my breath.”
After splitting Biden’s agenda into a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a party-line social spending bill, Democrats cut a deal on the former but struggled mightily to unify around the latter. With Republicans in lockstep against reversing or changing any of the GOP’s 2017 tax cut law, Democrats need total party unity in the Senate and can lose only five votes in the House if they want to pass anything.
Democrat Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer said getting, at minimum, some of Build Back Better is a “high priority.”
“I totally think it’s doable,” Minnesota Democrat Sen. Tina Smith said. “I can’t say exactly what I think would be included, but gosh, since like early January I’ve been saying figure out where you’ve got 50 votes and do it. Joe has been saying he wants to get it resolved. It’s not like people need more information.”
Sens. Sinema and Manchin have been a thorn in the side of President Biden since he became president, which had one MSNBC analyst pinning the expected Democrat thrashing in the midterm elections on them.
Host Mehdi Hasan, who has frequently blasted Manchin and Sinema and blamed them for thwarting President Joe Biden’s overtly progressive agenda, said they would be responsible for Democrats getting “hammered” this fall.
“If (when?) the Dems get hammered in November in the midterms, the number 1 reason will not be the left, or the economy, or Joe Biden, or Joe Biden’s chief of staff, or mask mandates. It’ll be two Democratic senators called Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. We all know this,” Hasan tweeted.
If (when?) the Dems get hammered in November in the midterms, the number 1 reason will not be the left, or the economy, or Joe Biden, or Joe Biden’s chief of staff, or mask mandates. It’ll be two Democratic senators called Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. We all know this.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 18, 2022
Hasan’s claim continued his trend of sharp criticism aimed at Manchin and Sinema, who he’s focused heavily on following their decisions to vote against changing the Senate filibuster, which would have allowed Biden’s key agenda items to pass with a simple majority.
He has railed against the two on social media and directed his anger against them towards White House press secretary Jen Psaki in an interview last month.
He claimed that if Biden had come out earlier in support of ending the filibuster, then Manchin and Sinema may have been more open to ending it as well.