Jan 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate Dems, Biden resume Manchin chase to salvage BBB

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is seen addressing reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate Democratic Caucus sees salvaging the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better package as key to boosting the party’s chances in this fall's midterms, especially as President Biden’s popularity sags in the polls.

Why it matters: The White House isn't the only one still courting Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) or his all-important vote.

What we’re hearing: Democratic leaders are largely in the same place with the BBB talks as they were before breaking for their holiday recess.

  • “People have had time to cool off; Manchin’s had time to cool off,” a senior Senate Democratic aide told Axios. “We’ll have to see now what becomes possible.”

What to watch: All eyes are on Monday night’s Senate leadership meeting, which Manchin will attend, and Tuesday’s weekly caucus lunch.

  • The lunch will be the first time all Senate Democrats are together in one room since Manchin made his opposition to the bill public last month.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will use the occasion as the marker for whether to hold a vote to proceed on BBB or hold off to try to negotiate more, Senate leadership aides tell Axios.

Schumer still plans to hold a vote on the mammoth package this month.

  • If he pushes for this week, that would be “a bad sign,” one aide said.
  • A snap-vote would indicate Democratic leaders expect the package to fail but want to give members an opportunity to vote for it.
  • That also would force Manchin to go on record voting against it.

Schumer's also planning to put a voting rights package — pushed by Manchin and backed by his fellow Democrats — on the floor this month.

  • The measure will fail to get the 10 GOP votes needed to break the filibuster, and then Senate Democrats will move to reform Senate rules, which could make it easier to pass their voting rights bill.

Also this week: The one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is Thursday.

  • While the House won't be in session this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out in a "Dear Colleague" letter a series of events leaders have planned to commemorate the anniversary.
  • Schumer’s office says he will plan to engage in those events and is not planning separate engagements.
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