President Joe Biden is unsure whether he’ll be able to get Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin on board with the Build Back Better agenda amid record inflation.
The president briefly spoke with reporters after giving closing remarks at the Virtual Summit of Democracy, fielding questions about inflation after news that it has reached its highest level in 39 years. Manchin is one Democrat who has repeatedly raised concerns about the president’s large social spending bill, citing inflation and arguing that perhaps now is not the time to pass the bill.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Biden said Friday when asked whether he can get Manchin on board given the circumstances. “I’m going to be talking to him at the beginning of the week.” (RELATED: Over 60% Of Americans Say Biden’s Policies Are To Blame For Accelerating Inflation)
The president said inflation is a “bump in the road” and reiterated his argument that the Build Back Better bill “will diminish inflation.”
“I think if you look at what most people, most of the economists are saying, this Build Back Better bill is not going to increase inflation, it will diminish inflation,” Biden declared. “It has a negative impact on inflation. It doesn’t raise inflation, but that’s hard for people to think about right now.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later told reporters that the administration has been in contact with Manchin’s office “at a staff level.” She said the Democratic senator and Biden will speak next week, but did not have specific details to provide.
The White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are determined to pass the Build Back Better legislation before the holidays. This hope, however, has been complicated by Manchin, who remains concerned about the bill’s price tag.
“The unknown we’re facing today is much greater than the need that people believe in this aspirational bill that we’re looking at, and we’ve got to make sure we get this right,” Manchin said on Tuesday. “We just can’t continue to flood the market, as we’ve done.”
Manchin’s uncertainty coincides with a new, revised score released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Biden’s social spending plan. This CBO score came at the request of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Missouri Rep. Jason Smith and speculates on the cost of Biden’s bill if various provisions, like the child tax credit expansion, became permanent.
The CBO score found Biden’s bill would “increase the deficit by $3 trillion over 2022 to 2031,” and is contingent on extensions not being paid for, CNN reported. The score was criticized by Democrats, with Psaki calling it “fundamentally dishonest.”