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Tipsheet

Joe Biden Releases Statement on Build Back Better Raises Concerns About Bill's Future

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Thursday night, the White House released a statement from President Joe Biden on the reconciliation spending bill, also known as Build Back Better. The bill, which passed the House last month, has received considerable attention in the past few days, especially when it appears the Senate may be moving on to voting legislation, rather than trying to pass the spending bill before the year's end.

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The statement was something of a lengthy one, taking quite a few words to try to get across what Biden may hope sends an optimistic message. For instance, the statement read that "I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition," later on also indicating that "Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible." 

That Biden focused on "fierce Republican opposition" is curious, since no Republicans were expected to vote for the bill. While Democrats have a shot at passing the bill through a simple majority vote by the process of reconciliation, their 50-50 majority in the Senate means that they cannot afford to lose any members. 

He referenced that "face of Republican opposition" towards the end of his statement as well, in a particularly desperate paragraph that read "We will – we must – get Build Back Better passed, even in the face of Republican opposition."

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Biden's statement even acknowledges discussions with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), making him part of the focus in the opening paragraphs:

I had a productive call with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer earlier today. I briefed them on the most recent discussions that my staff and I have held with Senator Manchin about Build Back Better. In these discussions, Senator Manchin has reiterated his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September. I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition.

My team and I are having ongoing discussions with Senator Manchin; that work will continue next week. It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.

There have been signs, however, that Sen. Manchin may be holding out on supporting the legislation, especially when it comes to the price tag, which may affect his position on expensive proposals, such as the child tax credit. Sen. Manchin has also indicated he is in no rush to pass the bill.

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Lastly, Biden's statement also tackled voting legislation. "At the same time, we must also press forward on voting rights legislation, and make progress on this as quickly as possible. I had a productive conversation today with several Senators about how we can get this vital legislation passed. Our democracy is at stake," the statement read in closing. 

This follows a narrative that Democrats have given up on passing Build Back Better in the immediate future and have instead moved on to prioritizing legislation that would amount to a federal takeover of elections. 

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