House Democrats are in limbo.
Members say they need moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to make it clear what he actually stands for before they can begin retooling their Build Back Better plan in a way that would actually have a chance of getting through the US Senate.
After passing their version of the bill late last year, House Democrats — including some progressives — are signaling they could be open to watering down the House-passed version of the bill in an effort to get something across the finish line and provide frontline members legislation to run on in the midterms. However, many also note the child tax credit, a piece that Manchin has specifically raised issues with, is a must.
“I think we are a caucus that believes in the elements of Build Back Better so we want to get most of it,” Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania told CNN, but added “concessions are compromise in legislating. We know we may not get the exact language, the exact elements, but there are certain elements that are a must. The child tax credit has made an extraordinary difference not just in my district, but certainly in the state of West Virginia.”
During a private caucus meeting, there was some discussion about where to go on Build Back Better, Dean told CNN, but members made it clear there still is no consensus about how to forge ahead given the uncertainty surrounding Manchin’s position.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a progressive Democrat from Connecticut, told CNN that the Child Tax Credit is essential to include, and she had concerns about the any work requirement being added as Manchin had previously suggested.
“We are pressing for the child tax credit to be part of Build Back Better,” DeLauro said.
Other Democrats warned that the House Democratic strategy is to compromise as much as is needed to get something passed.
“I don’t think that is acceptable to get nothing,” Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois, said. “I think we’re gonna figure out how to best navigate this. Obviously, we’ve got to navigate getting 50 Democratic votes. Forty-nine is not enough. We either end up with something or we end up with nothing.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal warned that there isn’t a whole lot the House can do until Manchin speaks up and says what he actually would support.
“We need to figure out what he’s for,” Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said of Manchin. “There is frustration because we think it’s a really good piece of legislation.”