With Christmas coming up and Congress about to go on break for several weeks, President Manchin is about to make his final move to kill the Biden Build Back Better move.
Sen. Joe Manchin, the most pivotal swing vote in the Senate, indicated on Monday that a significant amount of work remains to be done to earn his support for President Joe Biden's sweeping social safety net expansion, potentially delivering a fatal blow to Democratic leaders' hopes of getting the bill passed in the Senate before Christmas.
In a critical moment for the party's agenda, Manchin is set to speak with Biden on Monday afternoon as the President tries to secure his support for the plan. But the senator, whose vote is essential to its passage, is raising serious concerns, citing issues with the proposal's reliance on temporary programs and renewing long-standing concerns over inflation that only intensified after a report last week showed a key inflation measure surging to a 39-year high.
Manchin's comments suggest he needs to see wholesale changes to the bill, a process that could take weeks or even potentially months if he holds firm. But Democratic leaders have been racing to get the long-awaited bill done before Christmas even though the final proposal is still being written and vetted by the Senate parliamentarian.
The West Virginia Democrat, who has already accused his party of using "budget gimmicks" in drafting the plan, is now objecting to the way that Democrats are structuring the legislation, which he argues hides the true cost by relying on temporary spending that will likely become permanent.
In a key warning sign, Manchin told CNN the bill should not rely on temporary spending that lawmakers will face pressure to extend. "I don't think that's a fair evaluation of saying we are going to spend X amount of dollars but then we are going to have to depend on coming back and finding more money ... I'm concerned about paying down debt too," he said.
Manchin said the bill should be "within the limits of what we can afford" — and argued that lawmakers should evaluate how much it would cost to extend temporary programs in the bill for 10 years to be "transparent" about the actual price tag of the bill. Extending the programs would drive up price tag.
So expect even more cuts to the BBB bill, probably enough so that progressives tell Manchin to go Manchin himself, which ends the bill.
Which was the plan all along.