The key centrist shot down the current version of Democrats’ $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill last month.
After earlier reports that Manchin was looking for a way to help the president pass his agenda, the moderate Democrat told reporters on Tuesday morning that there are ‘no negotiations going on at this time.’
But an unnamed Senate Democrat told The Hill the current pause is necessary to progress.
They indicated that the final product will likely look much different than the version Manchin killed in December.
‘We all acknowledge, understand there’s a cooling off period and we need to give a little distance to Manchin and Biden on this so they can come back together and try again,’ the lawmaker said.
‘My guess is there will be a very significant reworking of the bill.’
They reportedly agreed to the pause, which will last as Democrats hash out voting rights legislation and filibuster reform, at yesterday’s virtual caucus lunch.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed that optimism in remarks to reporters yesterday.
Joe Biden and Joe Manchin have reached an understanding to discuss Build Back Better after giving each other ‘a little distance,’ a Senate Democrat said
‘I believe the Biden administration will be having discussions with Manchin, with his cooperation and participation on BBB as we move forward,’ Schumer said.
Much of Senate Democrats’ meeting was instead focused on voting rights legislation, which they hope to bring to the floor next week.
Manchin told Fox News on December 19 that he could not support the bill, stunning his colleagues and the White House who saw months of negotiations over the social reform and climate change package suddenly implode.
He cited his long-held concerns over how the $1.75 trillion measure would impact inflation, which hit a 40-year high last month after increasing by 6.8 percent year-over.
Biden had hoped to get the bill through Congress via a budget legislation process known as reconciliation, allowing it to bypass a certain GOP filibuster and pass with a simply majority vote.
With a 50-50 split in the Senate and no Republican support, the package needs the support of every Democrat in the chamber for any hope of passage.
But Manchin told reporters on Tuesday that he could not support such a ‘divisive’ bill — despite acknowledging the ‘well-intended’ nature of some of its programs.
‘There’s an awful lot of things that had a lot of a lot of things that were very I think well-intended. And there was a lot of things that was pretty far reach on some things and most delicate times that we have right now,’ the senator explained.
‘And our country’s divided. And I don’t tend to do anything that divides our country any more.’
Earlier that day, it was reported that Manchin was willing to return to the table on Build Back Better talks — provided Biden’s expanded child tax credit was pulled out.
Sources told Axios Manchin was willing to talk about the $1.75 trillion package’s provisions on climate change and child care measures, but the enhanced child tax credit, an extension of a measure in Biden’s American Rescue Plan, would either have to be eliminated altogether or its income cap for eligible families significantly raised.
One of Manchin’s main objections is the enhanced child tax credit. Under current US tax code the normal maximum child tax credit outside of the pandemic is 2,000
The boost, which raised the child tax benefit from $2,000 per child to up to $3,600 for children under 6, expired last week at the end of 2021. It also removed the $2,500 yearly income cap to qualify.
Manchin appeared to defend his opposition to the popular tax benefit on Tuesday, telling reporters that ‘if you have a credit, that means you’ve had to … have earnings.’
‘The climate thing is one that we probably can come to an agreement much easier than anything else,’ he said.
When Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, designed to help the country through the COVID-19 pandemic, he included an enhancement to the existing $2,000 child tax credit.
It had been doubled from $1,000 by Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The increase allowed parents to receive a maximum child tax benefit of $3,000 per child aged 6 to 17, and $3,600 for children under 6. It also temporarily did away with the requirement to report an annual earned income of at least $2,500.
Families making up to $400,000 were eligible for at least part of the credit, and the checks were made out to roughly 35 million families during the pandemic.
The White House had said the program had the potential to cut child poverty by half.