Joe Manchin Remains Opposed to Joe Biden's $2T Bill, Not Negotiating With White House

Senator Joe Manchin said Tuesday that he is still opposed to President Joe Biden's $2 trillion social and environmental spending bill and is not currently in talks with the White House to reach common ground on the sweeping legislation.

Manchin, one of the more moderate Democrats in Congress, is still a key holdout for the Biden administration priority after months of negotiations. With unanimous GOP opposition expected, Democrats would not be able to lose even one vote in the 50-50 Senate to pass the measure. The House has already passed a version of the package.

Manchin initially voiced his opposition on December 19 because of concerns over the measure's potential effect on inflation and federal deficits. His announcement that he couldn't support the bill shocked and frustrated fellow Democrats, some of whom have dismissed his concerns as unfounded.

Manchin told reporters on Tuesday that while he isn't currently negotiating with the White House, he didn't rule out resuming talks in the future. But for now, his position has not changed since mid-December.

"I feel as strongly today as I did then," Manchin said.

Manchin's issues with the package stem from its price tag, which would largely be funded by higher taxes on the wealthy and big corporations. In order to cut down the cost, he wants to reduce the number of proposals included in the measure, which currently addresses family services, health care, climate change and other areas.

Manchin Still Opposed
Senator Joe Manchin said Tuesday that he is still opposed to President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social and environmental spending bill and is not currently in talks with the White House to reach common ground on the sweeping legislation. Above, Manchin speaks to reporters outside of his office on Capitol Hill on January 4, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Manchin's comments Tuesday, along with leaders' concessions that the bill is on the back burner for now, suggested that the legislation's fate remains in doubt as the calendar slips ever closer to this November's congressional elections.

There are examples of flailing presidential priorities eventually clawing their way to passage, including then-President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, a 2009 effort that wasn't enacted until March of 2010. But often, the prospects for obstructed bills fade over time as opponents mount offensives that weaken support from lawmakers seeking reelection in closely divided districts.

One of Manchin's targets is the bill's extension of a beefed-up child tax credit, a top goal for many Democrats, which has included recently expired monthly checks of up to $300 for millions of recipients. Manchin said Tuesday he wants that benefit, which unemployed people can currently receive, narrowed to only help those with jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has said his chamber will focus early this month on voting rights legislation, another Democratic priority. He said he plans to hold votes on that issue by January 17.

He also said Tuesday that "the stakes are high for us to find common ground" on the social and environment bill, which has been Biden's primary domestic priority for months. Schumer said negotiations are continuing and said Democrats will "keep working until we get something done."

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) said lawmakers "clearly will return" to the $2 trillion package when their work on voting legislation is finished.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Biden Bill in Danger
Senator Joe Manchin, one of the more moderate Democrats in Congress, is still a key holdout for the Biden administration's $2 trillion spending bill after months of negotiations. Above, U.S. President Joe Biden listens during a virtual meeting about reducing the costs of meat through increased competition in the meat processing industry in the South Court Auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on January 3, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images