After months of negotiation and with the approval of the House of Representatives, the Rebuild Better project, flagship of the Biden administration, had in the last hours an unthinkable setback in the Senate chamber. The Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, reported that he will not support the initiative promoted from the White House, something that could see the transit of one of the most ambitious projects of the president of the United States finished. That’s because Democrats are trying to pass the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation, which allows a bill to pass the Senate by a simple majority.
It is worth remembering that at present, the majority of Democrats in the Senate is minimal, considering that they have 50 seats, just like the Republicans, but with Vice President Kamala Harris available to break a tie. The Rebuild Better budget reconciliation bill is one of two big laws that form the centerpiece of Biden’s national agenda.While the other bill focuses on infrastructure, this one focuses on a long list of social policies and programs ranging from education and health care, to housing and climate. Since the beginning of the talks to date, the project has been undergoing modifications or rather spending cuts seeking to see its approval.
The concessions led to a $3.5 trillion framework after initially proposing a $6 trillion option, even going so far as to reduce it further to $1.75 trillion, cutting back on some of its key priorities, including expanding dental and vision coverage. Throughout this process, the will to move forward has been based on the feeling that Senator Manchin was participating in the talks in good faith and that if there were any inconveniences the personal relationship so often pointed out by Biden himself could find a way to get the senator to vote in favor. So it’s not clear at the moment whether Manchin is looking to use his unique centrality in a hinge project to achieve a revised version of the plan that delivers on what he wants. If not, we will not only be facing Biden’s biggest political defeat since he took office, but also facing a tragedy in the face of the fight against climate change and the need to execute policies that accelerate the transition from fossil fuels.
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