Democratic leaders in Congress will apparently come up short in meeting a self-imposed pre-Christmas deadline for passing President Joe Biden’s sweeping Build Back Better bill.
Despite ongoing talks, the president and Democratic leadership have been unable to obtain the support of centrist Democratic senators, notably Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who thinks the $1.75 trillion bill, as currently structured, disguises a true cost that could be trillions higher. Manchin has stated he is concerned that too large a spending measure will only exacerbate the pressures that have already pushed inflation to a 40-year high.
“Joe Manchin has said the obvious,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in an interview Thursday morning. “He has said the emperor has no clothes.”
Lankford and other Republicans are grateful for what they see as Manchin’s sensible objections “each week that we can delay the ‘Build Back Broke’ — Build Back Better bill, whatever you want to be able to call it,” said Lankford.
Lankford doesn’t want to see BBB pass in any form, but said by at least delaying its passage, more Democrats, he feels, will begin to see what he sees.
“It’s a bill that’s just 2,400 pages, loaded with lots of problems. It’s not just the cost. It’s the content of the bill as well that’s a major problem,” he said.
One such "entitlement" is the Child Tax Credit, which the Democrat-controlled Congress expanded earlier this year, providing many middle- and low-income families with monthly checks. Under BBB, the enhanced program would continue for another year. But without action, it will expire at the end of this month.
Lankford said the intention was simply to expand the program during pandemic and doesn’t need to be made permanent.
“It will go back to what it was before; it’ll be a tax credit for every single family that’s out there that meets that minimum threshold for income and will be able to continue to encourage and incentivize work, such that if any individual in the household is working, they will get that child tax credit,” Lankford said.
Most Democrats support the package and said it contains programs to help solve real problems for real working class families, not to mention would begin to meaningfully address climate change – problems, they say, Republicans prefer to ignore.
Republicans said Democrats want to ignore the bill's multi-trillion dollar cost.
“We’ve got massive debt. We need to be able to talk about how do we reduce out debt, not how do we add even more programs and even more debt,” Lankford said.