It’s not everything Democrats want, and they may have to take Manchin’s terms in the heat of the midterm campaign season or face another rejection from the mercurial centrist. But with its work deep into the calendar, the party is putting a new spin on an old saying: Build Back Better Late Than Never….
There are signs, however, that talks are getting more specific: Manchin and Schumer are going line by line over what a possible deal would look like, building a potential agreement from the ground up rather than rehashing disagreements from last year, according to Democrats familiar with the matter. Much of the recent focus is on energy policy; Manchin indicated he will not support a bill that sends direct payments to companies that produce clean energy for consumer use, also known as “direct-pay,” drawing an important line in the negotiations.
Manchin was the first Democratic senator to warn about potentially rising inflation and was widely dismissed by his colleagues last year when he raised those concerns. With inflation now at its highest rate in 40 years, any conversation about spending more money will be a difficult sell with him, and he wants deficit reduction in the package, a person close to him said.
Of the provisions being considered for a new party-line bill, tax increases and prescription drug reform would bring in new revenues, but the energy component could require hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending….
Schumer is hoping he can bring up the bipartisan gun safety package for a vote next week, clearing the decks for bringing a Democratic bill to the Senate floor in July or August. By using what’s known as budget reconciliation, the measure would need just a simple majority of votes in the 50-50 Senate, and can avoid a GOP filibuster….
The Senate is currently slated to go on a two-week recess at the end of the next week, then return for four weeks before breaking for the bulk of August. Those weeks could give Democrats a huge opportunity to add another accomplishment before the November midterms.
And they need it. Polls show Biden’s approval rating is around 40 percent, endangering Democrats’ slim Senate majority. But according to a May survey by Hart Research Associates obtained by POLITICO, passing Manchin’s vision would offer a jolt come election time to four Democratic senators in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, where voters would be more likely to support the incumbents if such a bill passes….
Republicans are nonetheless getting worried, particularly with the gun debate taking up so much oxygen in Washington. One GOP aide fretted that Democrats “are using the debate on gun control as a distraction from their work to jam through” a smaller version of Build Back Better….
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(Excerpt from Politico. Photo Credit: Getty Images)