A month after Manchin tanked Biden's agenda, the White House says it will restart negotiations with him 'directly and privately'

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Joe manchin
Senator Joe Manchin seen at the US Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.Samuel Corum/Getty Images
  • The White House told The Wall Street Journal it's planning to resume negotiations with Sen. Manchin "directly and privately."

  • A month ago, Manchin said he could not vote for Build Back Better, citing inflation concerns.

  • This blindsided Democrats and the White House, who had hoped to pass the package in 2021.

A month after Sen. Joe Manchin dealt a shocking blow to President Joe Biden's agenda, the White House said it's planning to restart negotiations with the centrist Democrat — but this time, out of the public eye.

Manchin, the West Virginia holdout on the sweeping Build Back Better economic policy bill, said in December he could not support the framework in its current version, citing concerns with a range of issues like the expanded monthly child tax credit and inflation.

His announcement blindsided his Democratic colleagues and Biden's administration, but White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he's planning to restart conversations with Manchin to get a social-spending bill passed as soon as possible.

"One lesson we learned in the first year is, I think, the less we talk about our negotiations with specific senators and congressmen, the better we are so I'm going to say our talks with Sen. Manchin will proceed directly and privately," Klain said.

Manchin indicated earlier this month he has engaged in "no negotiations" on Build Back Better since rejecting the agenda, and his spokesperson Sam Runyon told the Journal "Sen. Manchin has clearly articulated his policy concerns with Build Back Better which are rooted in rising inflation, the ongoing pandemic and the geopolitical uncertainty around the world."

Democrats had hoped to pass the package by the end of 2021, and after failing to do so, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made clear he would work to get Build Back Better ready for a vote early this year. But Senate Democrats decided to put the agenda on the backburner for now to pass voting rights legislation, further pushing back the timeline for Americans to receive new social benefits like universal pre-K and affordable housing.

When Democrats eventually revisit the Build Back Better legislation, Manchin needs to be on board since its passage requires 50 votes and faces likely unanimous Republican opposition in the evenly split upper chamber. That opens the door for priorities like the expanded monthly child tax credit and paid leave to be scaled back, or cut from the package altogether, to secure Manchin's vote.

Senior House Democrats are starting to indicate that negotiations on the legislation will be taken up in the near future. "It's my expectation that we are going to revisit in short order the Build Back Better Act," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fifth-ranked House Democrat, told reporters at a weekly press conference on Wednesday.

Axios reported early this month Manchin would be open to resuming conversations if the child tax credit had an income limit and work requirements to receive the federal benefit. Manchin has also raised concerns that parents would spend the payments on drugs.

The good news for Democrats is that when it comes to the climate, which received the biggest investment in Biden's framework, they can likely come to an agreement with Manchin. He told reporters that "the climate thing is one that we probably can come to agreement much easier than anything else," signifying his support for certain elements of the package — but not the whole thing.

Read the original article on Business Insider