Biden Says He Thinks Congress Can Pass Parts of Broken-Up Build Back Better Plan

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
  • President Joe Biden said he believes Congress can pass pieces of his Build Back Better Act.
  • He pointed to climate policy and early childhood education as parts of the bill that could win support.
  • The $1.75 trillion bill stalled in December after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said he would not vote for it.

President Joe Biden said he will likely have to break up his stalled plan to invest in social programs and climate policy, and that he believes Congress can still pass parts of it.

"I'm confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law," the president told reporters on Wednesday.

Biden's signature proposal hit a wall in December after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said he would not vote for it. Every Senate Democrat would need to back the $1.75 trillion House-passed bill for it to get to Biden's desk and become law.

Biden said he has "been talking to a number of my colleagues" in Congress. He said he believes he can win support for more than $500 billion in spending to combat climate change.

He also noted that Manchin supports early childhood education — a nod to the bill's universal pre-K provision.

Democrats including Manchin have indicated they would revive the proposal in some form. Biden on Wednesday gave his clearest signal yet that he would embrace a smaller version of the plan.

"So I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest of it," he said.

After Biden said he would separate pieces of the package, Manchin told reporters that "I haven't talked to anybody" at the White House about it yet.

At least one other Senate Democrat, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, cheered Biden's comments Wednesday.

"The climate and clean energy provisions in Build Back Better have been largely worked through and financed, so let's start there and add any of the other important provisions to support working families that can meet the 50-vote threshold," said the progressive Markey, who has been vocal on climate policy.

Representatives for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment on Biden's remarks about potentially breaking Build Back Better into pieces.

The White House aims to renew talks around the plan, Reuters reported Tuesday. The Biden administration would aim to keep the legislation's provisions designed to curb climate change but remove or scale back pieces Manchin opposes, including a strengthened child tax credit and paid family leave, according to the wire service.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates described the report as "wrong." He said "the substance and details of this report are off base."

The bill as passed by the House included universal pre-K, subsidies for child care and a one-year extension of a tax credit of up to $300 per child. It would have expanded Medicare to cover hearing aids and boosted coverage for low-income Americans through Medicaid.

The legislation would have put more than $500 billion into climate programs — spending the president believes Democrats can salvage.

Every Republican in Congress has opposed the package, arguing it would worsen the worst inflation the U.S. has seen in decades.

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