WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat whose support is key to President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, said Tuesday that while the current version of the Build Back Better bill is “dead,” he’s open to another round of talks with the White House.
“What Build Back Better bill?” the West Virginia senator told reporters Tuesday when asked if some policies belong in that legislation. “It’s dead,” he added.
When asked about the senator’s comments, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday, she wouldn’t comment on private conversations with the senator “or any other senators about this piece of legislation, or our efforts moving forward.”
Psaki added that there is still strong support among members for many of the bill’s key policies, including lower costs for child care and Medicare.
“Whatever you call that, there is strong support for that, strong passion for that, a lot of advocacy for that, and there are a lot of members having continued conversations about it,” she said.
Manchin declared in December that he could not vote for the House-passed version of the bill, throwing its prospects into doubt and leaving the White House scrambling to salvage the nearly $2 trillion package. With Democrats holding only a slim majority of the Senate, Biden’s signature legislation relies on support from Manchin and another moderate Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Manchin said this month that he had not taken part in any negotiations with the White House. The White House and Senate Democratic leaders have struggled for months to come to an agreement, and it’s unclear if they still can.
Manchin added Tuesday that he would be open to any new discussions. “Whatever we are going to come up with, anything you want to be put on the table, we can talk about,” he said.