The 2nd-ranked Senate Democrat is daring Joe Manchin to sink Biden’s agenda: ‘It’s time to put up or shut up’

Richard Durbin Joe Manchin
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Capitol Hill.

  • Some Senate Democrats want to put Manchin on the spot about Biden’s $2 trillion bill.
  • “It comes a time we’ve got to say.. it’s time to put up or shut up,” Sen. Richard Durbin said.
  • But pressuring Manchin in a high-stakes vote could blow up in Democrats’ faces.

Some Senate Democrats are growing frustrated that Sen. Joe Manchin has not given their $2 trillion social climate and spending bill a green-light — and they’re ready to put him on the spot before the holidays.

“Many people will sit on the fence as long as possible,” Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranked Democrat in the upper chamber, told reporters on Tuesday. “It comes a time we’ve got to say, ‘All right, we’ve done the negotiating. We’ve made the accommodations, it’s time to put up or shut up.'”

The remarks are a clear reference to Manchin, who seems to be the only Senate Democrat who still hasn’t thrown his support behind Biden’s big spending bill. All 50 Senate Democrats must give it a thumbs-up for it to clear the 50-50 chamber, given strong GOP opposition. Senate Democrats are scrambling to iron out remaining disagreements and put it to a vote before their self-imposed Christmas deadline — only 11 days away.

Manchin has waffled on the bill and declined to state whether he’d vote for it. Instead, he’s raised concern about inflation, the price tag of the package, and whether the US can afford another burst of government spending on top of federal pandemic aid.

“Anything is possible,” he told reporters on Monday on whether passing it by Christmas was feasible. Biden spoke with Manchin that same day, and the pair are set to speak more in the coming days.

Final passage of the plan still seems far off. Democrats are still fighting on the state and local tax deduction (known as SALT), Medicare expansion, certain climate change provisions and immigration as well. They’re racing to avert a sudden lapse in President Joe Biden’s monthly child tax credit.

Still, such a high-stakes maneuver from Democrats to pressure Manchin may blow up in their face. It’s possible the West Virginia Democrat could vote to kick off a marathon series of amendment votes — and join Republicans to modify large chunks of the bill before the Senate ultimately votes on it.

“Nightmare for Ds isn’t that Manchin shoots down the motion to proceed, it’s that he allows debate to begin and then sides with Rs on amendments that alter the product in ways they have zero control over,” Republican lobbyist Liam Donovan wrote on Twitter. “Not a great plan.”

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The political blunder that won’t go away for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections

McAuliffe Youngkin
Virginia Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Glenn Youngkin participate in a debate at Northern Virginia Community College, in Alexandria, Virginia on September 28, 2021.

  • Democrats didn’t like Terry McAuliffe’s statement that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach.
  • They’ll likely have their own chances to confront culture wars in education in midterm campaigns.
  • Republicans are seizing on the issue of parent empowerment as they hope to beat Democrats in 2022.

It’s not hard to find a Democrat these days who is ready to dunk on failed Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

His statement during a September debate with Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, that parents shouldn’t be “telling schools what they should teach,” is the lead balloon that still hovers over the Democratic party as members face what’s already shaping up to be challenging midterm campaigns in 2022.  And Republicans, eager to seize the majority in both chambers of Congress, aren’t letting the issue go.

They’re pivoting off the Virginia election with a parent-empowerment message for 2022 and pointing to McAuliffe’s statement as evidence that Democrats are out of touch with parents’ concerns.

The McAuliffe blunder is the “example du jour” of how Democrats are mishandling culture issues, said Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat who ran for president in 2020. 

“I think a much better approach would be to say, ‘We’re not a communist country that bans books…and that’s what the Republicans are asking us to do,'” Moulton told Insider at the Capitol. “‘I care what parents think, but I believe in the Constitution, and I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of thought.'”

Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, told Insider that McAuliffe misread the political situation and, more importantly, didn’t give credit to parents and teachers fighting for public education. “When you don’t relate is when you make those kinds of comments,” he said.

If they haven’t already, many Democrats will certainly have their own opportunities in 2022 to confront the education culture wars creating chaos at school board meetings. McAuliffe’s comment came during an exchange about controversial books but the teaching of race and gender has caused flare-ups, too. 

McAuliffe, whose staff did not respond to a request for comment, offered Democrats a lesson in what not to say. The question is what to say to parents instead. 

Democrats need a better answer about parental involvement, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said, calling McAuliffe’s statement “problematic.” “We ought to be very comfortable with this,” she said.

Now they’re on the defensive as Republicans try to position themselves as the “party of parents” and offer up “Parents Bill of Rights” legislation in the House. 

“We’ve always been the party for more parental involvement, for school choice, for more opportunities for kids and parents,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana told Insider at the Capitol. “And I think there’s never been more interest from parents across the political spectrum in that kind of Republican agenda.”

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican of North Carolina, said “if Virginia is an indication, showing disinterest in what parents think becomes an issue.

“What Virginia proved is that when you ignore your constituency; when you ignore the things they’re most concerned with, they’re gonna bite you,” said Burr, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee who said in 2016 he wouldn’t run for re-election. “And they bit in Virginia.”

Loudoun county school board meeting
Amy Jahr sings the Star Spangled Banner after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a former governor of the state like McAuliffe, said the lesson moving forward is to fully appreciate and show more empathy toward parents and students who have had a challenging time over the last 18 months. “We may not have handled that as well as we could,” he said. Many on the Democratic side know that you need to start with empathy when dealing with parents rather than a specific policy, Warner added. Asked whether he was talking about McAuliffe, he laughed and walked away.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King, of Maryland, was quick to bring up parents when asked if there was anything else he’d like to add during a recent interview. King said even McAuliffe would acknowledge the response wasn’t good or correct. “We need schools to be a partnership of educators and parents,” said King, who served as former President Barack Obama’s education secretary.

McAuliffe got defensive and shouldn’t have, said Grijalva, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. Parents worry about educating their children during the pandemic and the investments they think their schools need, he said. Parent empowerment is an issue that works for Democrats, Grijalva said, and it’s to Democrats’ advantage to focus on public education.

“I don’t think we should run away from this,” he said.

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The clock is ticking with 2 weeks left for Democrats to avoid a sudden end to monthly checks to families — but Manchin is still a wild card

Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) walks after a vote on Capitol Hill on November 4, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • Manchin poses a big obstacle for Democrats trying to approve Biden’s big bill by Christmas.
  • Democrats want to pass it to prevent cutting off families from monthly child tax credit checks.
  • Manchin has remained publicly silent since a Friday report showing a surge in inflation.

Senate Democrats are scrambling to approve a $2 trillion economic spending plan by year’s end. But a swing vote within their ranks could still slam the brakes and upend their aggressive timetable, kicking it into next year.

Democrats are still sticking to their Christmas deadline to approve the sprawling bill, which includes an expansion of Medicare to cover hearing, a one-year extension of the child tax credit, funding for affordable housing, universal pre-K and childcare subsidies. It would be paid for with tax increases on large firms and wealthy Americans.

Senior Democrats are leaning into the pending expiration of up to $300 in monthly checks to families as a pressure point to wrap up work on the bill. Around 35 million families are receiving the federal cash and the last scheduled payment will go out on Dec. 15.

“Let’s pass and enact Build Back Better into law before Christmas so families won’t see their checks come to a halt in the coming months and families— as they’re doing their Christmas shopping — can be assured that new checks will be coming over the next year,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Thursday floor speech.

Manchin, however, has not thrown his backing behind the legislation and all 50 Senate Democrats must give it a thumbs-up for it to clear the 50-50 chamber, given strong GOP opposition. He’s repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation contributing to inflation and whether it would be fully paid for by the tax increases. Manchin remained silent after a key government report on Friday showed consumer prices had risen 6.8% compared to a year ago.

Manchin’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Internal Revenue Service has told Congress that Dec. 28 is the latest date that the bill must pass to ensure monthly checks are issued to families. The IRS and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats appear far from done from finalizing key aspects of the legislation. They’re still haggling over tax cuts for higher-income families in predominantly blue states and those negotiations are ongoing. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is pushing to scale back those tax breaks, warning it would be too generous for the rich.

The “Build Back Better” bill may be pared down further to gain Manchin’s support as the West Virginia Democrat has lambasted a measure to provide four weeks of paid parental and medical leave.

Republicans are also trying to pressure Manchin to sink the bill. They released an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office indicating it could add $3 trillion to the federal deficit. Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said at a press conference on Friday that Manchin seemed “stunned” at the findings.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that he was unsure whether he could get Manchin’s support for the bill this year. The pair are set to talk early this week in what will be a high-stakes meeting.

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Democrats assail Republicans for using ‘fake’ math in their bid to sway Joe Manchin into derailing Biden’s agenda

Lindsay Graham GOP Senate Republicans
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (C) joins Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (L), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and other Senate Republicans at Capitol Hill news conference on July 21, 2021.

  • Republicans mounted a fresh assault on the Democratic spending plan with a new analysis.
  • Several Democrats called it “fake” math, an analysis of a hypothetical bill that’s not on the table.
  • It was all meant to sway Sen. Joe Manchin, who can sink the Democratic-only legislation.

Congressional Republicans spent much of Friday leveling a fresh barrage of criticism against President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion economic spending bill.

The Democrats returned fire.

A new analysis was released Friday from the Congressional Budget Office scoring the full cost of Biden’s Build Back Better bill if all of its education, childcare, climate, and tax provisions were made permanent. (The current bill would have all of these expire.)

It was largely a Republican attempt to sway Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat skeptical of the plan’s price tag. That’s because the nonpartisan scorekeeper completed the projections at the request of Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, a pair of Republicans. 

The analysis indicated that it would add $3 trillion to the federal deficit since it didn’t factor in any potential tax increases to offset its cost. But Democrats and the White House countered that the analysis amounted to little more than “fake” math since it analyzed a hypothetical bill that wasn’t on the table. They also pledged to finance any extension with tax increases.

“The Republicans are so desperate to justify their opposition to the popular, much-needed provisions in the Build Back Better Act that they’ve resorted to requesting fake scores based on mistruths,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a Friday statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi derided it as a “phony score,” adding that Democrats would pay for any future legislation. That language was mirrored by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who called it “a fake CBO score.”

The CBO score came after the Labor Department reported consumer prices rose 6.8% in November compared to a year ago, reflecting ongoing supply-chain troubles and strong consumer demand. It’s the highest inflation reading since 39 years ago, when Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office, and Republicans pounced.

“The one two-punch of the CBO score, showing the bill to be much more expensive, and record high inflation after 40 years, I think will give Sen. Manchin great pause,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said at a press conference on Friday, adding that he spoke to the West Virginia lawmaker as well.

“He was stunned,” Graham said, referring to Manchin. “I think he felt vindicated in that his concerns were legitimate.”

All 50 Senate Democrats must stick together for the plan to clear the upper chamber over unanimous GOP opposition. Manchin has said he’s alarmed about the prospect of runaway inflation, and Friday’s government report could spell trouble for Democrats trying to pass the spending bill within 15 days and avoid a sudden lapse of monthly child tax credit payments next month.

Biden said Friday he didn’t know whether he could get Manchin’s vote on the bill, adding that the pair planned to speak early next week.

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Here are the 14 Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell, who defied Trump and voted with Democrats in debt-ceiling deal

trump mcconnell
  • The Senate voted Thursday on a measure that will allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell struck a deal with Democrats to pass the measure in order to avoid default.
  • Fourteen Republicans voted with Democrats, despite Trump harshly criticizing the deal and McConnell.

Fourteen Republican senators voted Thursday in favor of a maneuver that will allow Democrats to raise the debt limit without any GOP support, despite harsh protests from former President Donald Trump.

The move will help the US pay its bills and avoid a debt default that was expected to occur next week. The vote came after a deal was brokered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Trump lambasted the deal and McConnell earlier this week.

“So Mitch McConnell has the greatest hand, the greatest, the best, this is such an easy negotiation to kill the Build Back Worse plan of Biden, which is going to destroy our country permanently,” Trump said on a conservative talk show. “And we have a thing called the debt ceiling,” he added. “And this morning, I hear he gave it up. He gave it up for practically nothing. He could have used the debt ceiling card.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham also warned his colleagues about going along with it, saying the GOP had been “shot in the back” with the deal and that those who do will have to deal with Trump’s wrath.

Here are the 14 Republican senators who ignored Trump and Graham and voted with all Democrats in favor of the measure:

  • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Susan Collins of Maine
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • John Barrasso of Wyoming
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Democrats have 19 days to pass Biden’s big bill before parents get cut off from child tax credit checks in January, IRS says

joe biden
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill in the State Dining Room of the White House on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.

  • The IRS says December 28 is the latest Biden’s plan can pass for January CTC payments to go out.
  • Two Democratic aides privately confirmed the IRS communications to Insider.
  • Schumer is putting his foot on the gas, but Manchin hasn’t signaled that he’s onboard with this timeline.

The Internal Revenue Service has advised Congressional Democrats that December 28 is the latest date that President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social and climate spending bill must pass to ensure the January 15 round of child tax credit payments goes out smoothly.

Two Democratic aides were granted anonymity to privately discuss the matter with Insider.

The development could add further urgency to Democrats’ struggle to meet their ambitious timeline to approve the sprawling bill by Christmas. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is using the looming deadline to pressure all 50 Senate Democrats to immediately unite around the package over unanimous Republican opposition.

“COVID isn’t over, and so these checks shouldn’t lapse either — on the contrary they should keep going!” Schumer said Thursday on the Senate floor.

Though Schumer is pressing his foot on the gas, he’s already collided with a major obstacle: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin has not thrown his support behind the bill and said on Wednesday a chunk of the package was still being negotiated. He told Insider that the federal government had stepped in enough with a burst of new spending to help families during the pandemic, in the event of the child tax credit abruptly ending.

“We’re doing an awful lot,” Manchin said. “We did an expansion of SNAP. We’ve done everything that we can to help people — we sent out $5.4 trillion in aid.”

The current bill would renew the revamped child tax credit through 2022. It provides up to $300 a month per child age 5 and under, or $3,600 annually. For children between ages 6 and 17, families can receive $250 each month, or $3,000 yearly. And it would lock in the ability for the vast majority of American families to receive the cash every month, regardless of whether they file taxes.

Some 35 million families are receiving the monthly child tax credit, per the IRS and Treasury. Data shows the government cash is going towards basic expenses like rent, groceries and gas. 

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado told Insider on Wednesday that it would be a “disaster” if millions of families were abruptly cut off from the monthly checks. Experts agree.

“Letting the child tax credit expire would be a terrible mistake,” Lindsay Owens, an economist at the left-leaning Groundwork Collaborative who has closely studied the issue, told Insider. “It’s successful program that’s helping families afford the rising costs and take on childcare costs.”

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2 Democrats joined with every Republican senator to repeal Biden’s private employer vaccine-or-test mandate

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) speaks during a news conference about Covid-19 vaccine mandates, at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) speaks during a news conference about Covid-19 vaccine mandates, at the U.S. Capitol December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The Senate voted to overturn Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses with at least 100 employees. 
  • Every Republican senator and two Democratic senators supported the resolution reversing the federal mandate. 
  • The Biden administration insists the policy is necessary to increase vaccination rates and slow the pandemic. 

Every Republican US senator and 2 Democratic senators — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and John Tester of Montana — voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses with more than 100 employees on Wednesday. 

Biden announced in September that the Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration would require large companies to ensure all their employees are either fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022, or have them tested on a weekly basis and masked in the workplace.

Legislative efforts to overturn the policy are likely doomed — the measure is unlikely to pass the House and would be vetoed by the president.

Many opponents of the private employer mandate, including GOP lawmakers, have misleadingly framed the rule as a strict vaccine mandate. In reality, the policy allows companies to decide whether their employees can opt out of vaccination and instead be tested on a weekly basis. 

Conservative Senate Democrats side with Republicans

Republicans and some Democrats argue the vaccine and testing mandates will hurt the economy and American workers and amounts to federal overreach. Several Republican state attorneys general sued to overturn the policy last month and an appeals court ordered OSHA to suspend the policy.

While Republican lawmakers largely say they are pro-vaccine, some are also downplaying the severity of the ongoing pandemic. Sen. Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican who has led the effort to repeal the rule, claimed without offering evidence that there are minimal risks of COVID-19 transmission at the workplace. 

“Hardly any transmission is occurring at the business level, or what you do during the day,” Braun said during a press conference Monday. 

At Wednesday’s GOP press conference, Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas warned there will be an “economic shutdown,” “brownouts,” increasing inflation, and other hardships if the mandates are enforced. 

But Democrats — including some who are viewed as politically vulnerable — argue that increasing vaccination rates is essential to protect the economy and workers at risk of contracting the virus in the workplace. 

“I think it’s important that, for the purposes of Nevada’s economy, we keep our businesses and people safe, and the only way we’re going to do that is make sure we either get people vaccinated or a test,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is up for re-election in the swing state of Nevada in 2022, told Insider on Wednesday. “People have the ability to test.” 

Democrats also warn that rates of hospitalization for COVID-19 in their states is simply unsustainable and say vaccination is the only way out of the crisis.

“In New Hampshire, we have the highest rate of transmission of any state in the country,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire told Insider. “Our hospitals are at capacity, our healthcare workers are overworked, and we need to make sure that people get vaccinated.”

Despite his home state governor’s recent criticism of the policy, Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan told Insider he was voting against repealing the OSHA rule because he is “tired of having a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“I have no tolerance for people who — unless they have legitimate objections —  are not getting vaccinated,” he said.

Though most Democrats back Biden’s COVID-19 policies, both Manchin and Tester announced well ahead of the vote that they would vote to repeal the rules for private businesses.

“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” Manchin said in a statement, announcing that he would cosponsor the measure.

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin on Capitol Hill.

“I mean, I’m vaccinated, my staff’s vaccinated, my family’s vaccinated,” Tester told Insider on Wednesday. “The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve heard from businesses that it’s really hard.”

Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, both facing potentially tough re-election battles next year, declined to tell Insider how they would vote when asked on Wednesday.

Both ultimately voted against the measure.

Full vaccination status calls for either a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Beginning this week, employers are required to provide paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated and sick leave if they need time to recover from side effects of the shot. 

The OSHA rule for private employers is distinct from more stringent federal mandates for healthcare providers, Medicare and Medicaid providers, and federal government contractors. 

Republicans and other critics also argued that those who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected through so-called “natural immunity” and should be exempt from getting vaccinated.

While studies have found that a COVID-19 infection provides some immunity, those who are vaccinated appear to have stronger protection against reinfection. OSHA has said it’s not workable to exempt people who’ve been infected. 

Republican lawmakers argued that enforcing workplace rules will only harden opposition to the vaccines. But the mandates have significantly increased the number of vaccinated people in recent months. Still, Republicans insist that workers are being unfairly punished. 

“If you want to earn a paycheck in America, you have to get vaccinated, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said, “but if you want to sit at home and collect a welfare check under Joe Biden’s economy, then it doesn’t matter to him whether you’re vaccinated or not.” 

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Joe Manchin sounds fed up with Biden’s spending plans: ‘We’ve done everything that we can to help people’

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) walks after a vote on Capitol Hill on November 4, 2021 in Washington, DC

  • Manchin may slam the brakes on passing Biden’s social and climate legislation for now.
  • Speaking to reporters, he brought up how the federal government has spent $5.4 trillion in emergency pandemic aid.
  • “We’ve done everything that we can to help people,” he told Insider.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a crucial swing vote, doesn’t sound like he’ll give the green light to President Joe Biden’s planned $2 trillion social and climate spending plan anytime soon.

Earlier in the summer, he urged a “strategic pause” on moving ahead with the sprawling bill. At the time, he cited a spike in COVID-19 infections and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as more urgent priorities for Congress to address. Now, Manchin is railing against inflation and rising prices.

Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly alarmed about the prospect of an abrupt cutoff of monthly child tax credit checks flowing to millions of families. The last payment is set to be issued on December 15. Experts say a lapse would hit kids from low-income families hard because they would be shut out from receiving aid. It would also no longer come in monthly installments.

Around 346,000 kids in West Virginia could lose some or all the federal aid, per an analysis from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

On Wednesday, Manchin sounded fed up with the concept of additional federal spending.

“We’re doing an awful lot,” the West Virginia Democrat told Insider. “We did an expansion of SNAP. We’ve done everything that we can to help people — we sent out $5.4 trillion in aid.”

He went on: “And there’s an awful lot of things we’ve done that’s been very good that will continue on into 2022.”

At Capitol Hill, Manchin pulled out a small white card that listed both bipartisan and Democratic-only achievements and argued that his party hadn’t touted them enough. They included the recent $550 billion infrastructure law and the $1.9 trillion stimulus law; the latter passed with only Democratic votes.

The card also said Congress had authorized $6.6 trillion in extra federal spending in the last 20 months. Most of that sum was devoted to combating the pandemic through small business aid, direct payments, federal unemployment benefits and emergency health spending.

Manchin poured cold water on passing the bill anytime soon, saying much of the bill needed to be “scrubbed” so it complies with Senate rules and large parts were still being negotiated.

That’s not deterring Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from standing by his December 25 deadline. All 50 Senate Democrats must coalesce around the legislation so it can pass over unanimous GOP opposition. Manchin’s resistance alone could therefore delay or sink the measure.

“We continue to make good progress and we’re still on track to vote on a final product before Christmas,” he said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “The sooner we can pass Build Back Better, the better off American families will be as we start the New Year.”

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Mitch McConnell is taking a big gamble on lifting the debt limit that could spark a GOP revolt over blowing a hole in the filibuster

Mitch McConnell
Senate Republican leadership, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrive for their weekly policy luncheon news conference outside the Senate Chamber on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • McConnell and Schumer are trying to avoid a high-stakes showdown that could end in a US default.
  • McConnell is gambling some Republicans will grease the wheels for Dems to lift the debt ceiling alone.
  • But his potential compromise may spark a conservative revolt over the filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is eyeing a way out of another high-stakes showdown. But his maneuvering could spark a conservative revolt over weakening the filibuster.

The Kentucky Republican has been locked in weeks of secret negotiations with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Majority Leader. The pair are trying to head off another bruising clash that brought the US to the brink of defaulting on its debt earlier in the fall. The US is eight days before an important fiscal deadline to avert a potential breach of the debt ceiling.

“We want a simple majority without a convoluted, risky, lengthy process and it looks like the Republicans will help us facilitate that,” Schumer said at a weekly press conference.

The debt ceiling is the legal limit on how much the government can borrow to pay bills it has already incurred. If Congress fails to raise the borrowing cap, experts say the federal government enters a default that would plunge America into another devastating economic crisis, halt Social Security payments and paychecks to military servicemembers.

Since the summer, McConnell spearheaded an effort to pressure Democrats to renew the US’s ability to cover its bills using a party-line procedure known as reconciliation. Democrats rejected it, arguing it must be done in a bipartisan manner.

But a potential compromise emerged on Tuesday. A House bill was introduced that would first pave the way for Democrats to lift the debt limit only once with a simple majority vote instead of the 60 typically required under the filibuster. For that to pass the upper chamber, 10 Republicans would need to throw their support behind it.

Then, Democrats could move ahead and lift the debt limit on their own over unanimous Republican opposition in a follow-up bill. The new House legislation included elements of a compromise: A specific debt number would be attached, a key Republican demand. Then the bill would avert spending cuts to safety-net programs like Medicare triggered under the Biden stimulus scheduled for next year, a Democratic priority.

The deal threatens to spark a conservative revolt. “It’s a terrible idea. Terrible,” Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told NBC News. “It would circumvent the filibuster. This is nuking the filibuster.”

Others outright rejected the idea of Republicans cooperating with Democrats in any way on the debt limit. “They don’t need a single Republican,” Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee told Insider earlier on Tuesday. “I don’t plan to support it at all.”

It was not immediately clear whether enough Republicans would support  the complicated plan. Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas were among the GOP lawmakers who signaled they could back it.

“I think there will be ten,” Blunt told Insider. “There may be more than ten. A lot of people don’t want to be part of these cuts” to Medicare.

Others held out to see more about the plan. McConnell pitched Republicans on the deal at a weekly caucus lunch. He later expressed confidence that Republicans would get onboard.

“I believe we’ve reached a solution to the debt ceiling issue that’s consistent with Republican views,” McConnell told said Tuesday.

Some GOP senators were not excited about the idea. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said he wanted more time to review the proposal before deciding on casting a vote for it. “I still think reconciliation would be the preferred method,” he told Insider.

Romney voted against raising the debt limit in September. All the while, Democrats remained critical of Republicans for treating the debt limit as a political tool.

“I think Republicans are fairly irresponsible and crazy,” Sanders told Insider. “But I think there are a number of them who will understand it will be a disaster not to pay our debts and plunge the global economy into turmoil.”

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Elon Musk unloads on Biden’s big social and climate spending bill: ‘I would just can this whole bill. Don’t pass it’

Elon Musk
Elon Musk on August 13, 2021 at a press event on the grounds of the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin.

  • Billionaire CEO Elon Musk had a scathing assessment of the Democratic social and climate bill.
  • He urged Democrats to “can” the legislation.
  • He specifically targeted a provision that would authorize a tax credit if Americans bought an electric vehicle assembled by unionized workers with batteries constructed in the US.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk assailed a $2 trillion social and climate spending bill, saying he’s in favor of scrapping the entire package.

“Honestly, I would just can this whole bill. Don’t pass it,” Musk said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, which he appeared at virtually. “That’s my recommendation.”

He swung at a specific provision within the legislation that would authorize a tax credit up to $12,500 for Americans if they bought an electric vehicle assembled by unionized workers with batteries constructed in the US.

“I am literally saying get rid of all subsidies,” he said.

Congressional Democrats are aiming to put the bill on President Joe Biden’s desk sometime before the end of the year. The sprawling measure contains the bulk of his economic agenda.

The House-approved legislation would set up universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds and renew monthly cash payments to the vast majority of American families for another year. It would expand Medicare to cover hearing services, enact four weeks of paid family and medical leave, and fight the climate emergency. Democrats want to pay for it with tax hikes on the rich and large corporations.

Musk, who said he generally believes that the government should “get out of the way,” has already criticized and mocked Democrats for their legislation, sometimes using vulgar terms. He stepped up his attacks as they assembled a new tax proposal targeting billionaires. That’s fallen out of the bill due to centrist opposition.

The Tesla chief executive also criticized the widening budget deficit, or the gap between what the government spends and ultimately collects in tax revenue every year. He called it “insane” and said that “zeroing out” all of the billionaires still wouldn’t fix the deficit. 

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