Democrats floated a plan on Wednesday to put their Build Back Better negotiations on hold and focus on voting rights but Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema quickly shot down the plan, Politico reports.
Democrats have stalled on negotiations over President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin pushes to gut the bill.
“The talks between [Biden] and Manchin have been going very poorly. They are far apart,” a source told Politico.
Manchin has pushed to cut the Child Tax Credit from the bill entirely, arguing that it would cost too much if it is extended beyond the year included in the bill.
Manchin is pushing for more changes and is unlikely to agree before the end of the year. But Democrats are also facing a time crunch to pass a bill cracking down on partisan redistricting as states roll out their new maps ahead of the 2022 midterms.
"Obviously voting rights have got to be dealt with immediately,” said Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders. “I would like to see a Build Back Better bill move as quickly as possible, but if we can't deal with that right now, it's a lot more important that we deal with the voting rights issue."
Sinema holds on filibuster:
Democrats are pushing to make changes to the filibuster rule to pass voting rights legislation after Republicans filibustered their bills multiple times.
But while Democrats have mostly focused on convincing Manchin to agree to a filibuster carveout, Sinema renewed her defense of the rule on Wednesday, effectively torpedoing the entire effort.
A spokesman for Sinema told Politico that she “continues to support the Senate's 60-vote threshold, to protect the country from repeated radical reversals in federal policy which would cement uncertainty, deepen divisions, and further erode Americans’ confidence in our government.”
“Senator Sinema has asked those who want to weaken or eliminate the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation which she supports if it would be good for our country to do so,” the statement said, adding that legislation could be “rescinded in a few years and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law, nationwide restrictions on vote-by-mail, or other voting restrictions currently passing in some states extended nationwide.”
Democrats not optimistic:
Democrats are preparing to end the year failing to pass either bill.
White House aides believe that the “prospects for legislative success still look grim,” according to Politico, and any push on voting rights would be killed by Manchin and Sinema’s reluctance to change the filibuster.
West Wing aides are “skeptical” that they can convince the holdout Democrats. But Democrats on Capitol Hill worry Biden is not doing enough.
“I want to see Biden start running people in and out of the White House,” said Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown. “I want to start by seeing the president using the full leverage of his office. It's a crisis in democracy and the president needs to address it.”