Scoop: Biden and Manchin deadlocked on length of BBB programs
President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are locked in a disagreement over how long programs in the Build Back Better agenda should be funded, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
Why it matters: The impasse all but guarantees the Senate will delay a vote on the $1.75 trillion spending package until next year. It's also an indication Biden is willing to hold out for a bigger deal, as opposed to a faster one.
- The president told the senator during a phone call Monday he didn’t want to budge from his plan to fund some of his programs for one year, and others for 10 years.
- Manchin was equally clear: Before negotiating which individual programs should survive, he wants to agree to a common denominator for their funding term.
- Biden wants to focus on the numerator — the top-line cost of each program —regardless of how long it endures.
Shorter durations mean more programs can be started or funded under a given price tag.
But, but, but: Projecting the cost of those programs over the same span — 10 years is a typical government projection — allows an apples-to-apples comparison of their true cost.
- It also has the politically unpalatable effect of raising the overall price tag.
- Manchin's insistence on using the same time horizons shows just how far the two sides have to travel to achieve a deal.
- His office declined to comment on the specifics of his conversation with Biden.
- A White House official said: "The president and Sen. Manchin deal with each other in good faith, and their calls have been constructive and friendly."
Between the lines: As he negotiates over the size and scope of Biden’s social spending bill, Manchin insists he’s not trying to bend his party to meet his priorities.
- He says he simply wants to be clear about his own position.
- “I don’t think I am asking anyone to move,” he told CNN’s Manu Raju, during a walking interview to his waiting SUV. “I want people to understand where I am.”
- Asked if Biden is moving closer to him on the spending package, Manchin said: “I wouldn’t say that.”
- Manchin and Biden briefly spoke today as well.
Go deeper: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to insist a deal can be achieved by Christmas, but senators are growing openly skeptical about his ambition timeline, Punch Bowl News reported.
- “The president's been speaking with Sen. Manchin, and I look forward to hearing about further progress,” Schumer told reporters.
Be smart: There's risk for the White House in letting the negotiations drag into 2022 — a midterm election year.
- Manchin continues to raise alarms about inflation and the effects of trillions of dollars of additional government spending on prices.
- His concerns have been validated by Consumer Price Index readings, with Friday's report putting the current inflation rate at 6.8%.
- The next CPI release is on Jan. 12, which may be more of a deadline for reaching agreement on the spending bill than Christmas Day.