Manchin on BBB: “This is a no on this legislation.”

December 20, 2021

The Senate, where courtesy is a virtue, is feeling less collegial today after Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) disclosed on “Fox News Sunday” that he will not support President Biden’s family and climate spending Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation legislation. The revelation came after the Senate adjourned for the year on early Saturday morning. Prior to adjournment the Senate confirmed 9 district court judges, 5 other positions, and broke through a Republican hold on 41 ambassadors. Manchin released this statement on the Build Back Better Act after his Fox News appearance.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday saying Manchin didn’t have the “guts” and “courage” to take on special interests. Sanders said he “absolutely” wants a vote on BBB even if Manchin will vote no saying, “Let him vote no in front of the whole world.” But NBC News noted that Manchin represents a state that Biden lost by 39 points in 2020, which strongly suggests Manchin has little to lose when it comes to his West Virginian voters by voting “no” on BBB.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Friday had admitted that BBB would not pass this year, saying in floor remarks, “The president requested more time to continue his negotiations, and so we will keep working with him, hand in hand, to bring this bill over the finish line and deliver on these much-needed provisions.”

And as late as Thursday evening, President Biden issued a statement saying, "Senator Manchin has reiterated his support for Build Back Better funding at the level of the framework plan I announced in September."

Where Does BBB Go from Here?
Axios reports that Democratic leadership is looking to set new deadlines in 2022 to “renew that sense of urgency,” and noted that Manchin is not the only obstacle. Disagreements within the Democratic caucus over how the reconciliation bill would address immigration and state and local tax deductions are still unresolved.

The Senate left Washington for the holidays and will return on Monday, January 3. While it is not clear, many expect Democrats to bring portions of the BBB legislation, such as an extension of child tax credit payments, which expire at the end of this year, to a vote in the Senate and pass as much of President Biden’s agenda as possible.

However, progressives are incensed at what they view as Biden and Schumer running down the clock with unnecessary negotiations with Manchin, while BBB’s climate change and social spending priorities languished, along with voting rights legislation.

Manchin Vexed over How Long BBB Programs Funded
A key part of the disagreement between Manchin and the White House is about how long programs in the Build Back Better legislation should be funded, which Axios says is an indication that President Biden may be willing to hold out for a bigger deal, as opposed to a faster agreement. BBB currently funds some programs for one year, while others are funded for 10 years. Axios reported that Manchin wants to agree to a single funding horizon before negotiating which individual programs should survive.

US Chamber Opposition to BBB
Manchin’s revelation that he will not support BBB in its current form also comes after Politico reported that the US Chamber of Commerce put extra pressure on Manchin in his home state by commissioning a television ad where residents of the state, vetted by the business group, thank Manchin for “fighting for my business,” and, “standing up for my family,” to oppose BBB. Another person in the ad says. “Keep fighting for us, senator. We can't afford higher taxes and more inflation.”

Policy Pivot
A November op-ed in The New York Times may provide a roadmap for Democrats to bring Manchin back to the table, which was highlighted this weekend by Axios. A think tank recommends that rather than “spreading the price among American taxpayers while leaving the cause of the underlying costs unaddressed," BBB should instead, “focus policymaking on increasing the supply of those expensive but vital goods and services, in what's come to be called ‘supply-side progressivism.’" This approach may offer Democrats a way to bring Manchin to agreement over President Biden’s spending priorities. Time will tell.



Justin Ailes
Managing Director, Government Relations
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday saying Manchin didn’t have the “guts” and “courage” to take on special interests.
The information provided herein is general in nature and for educational purposes only. CRE Finance Council makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, validity, usefulness, or suitability of the information provided. The information should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal, financial, tax, accounting, investment, commercial or other advice, and CRE Finance Council disclaims all liability for any such reliance. © 2021 CRE Finance Council. All rights reserved.

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