Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., recently spoke out about ongoing negotiations between President Joe Biden and Democrats regarding the massive $4 trillion Build Back Better spending bill.
A key figure in the talks, Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told Fox News that he cannot back the bill, citing concerns over the size and scope of the legislation.
Manchin has faced heated opposition from fellow Democrats and the administration, while Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he will call the vote despite Manchin’s announcement.
“I think Build Back Better is dead forever and let me tell you why: Because Joe Manchin has said he’s not going to vote for a bill that will add to the deficit. Well, if you do away with the budget gimmicks, Build Back Better, according to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), adds $3 trillion to the deficit,” Graham said, before Manchin’s decision was public.
Graham continued, “He doesn’t want to vote for a bill that makes inflation worse — and one thing we haven’t talked about tonight that was mentioned today…the child-care provisions in Build Back Better prohibits religious institutions from receiving money.”
The expanded child tax credit has been a key sticking point of the late-stage negotiations within the Democratic Party. The House version of the bill includes a one-year extension of the pandemic-era policy.
However, Manchin is now putting forward the suggestion of extending it for multiple years so that the proposal’s cost is fully reflected in the legislation.
“At the end of the day, Joe Manchin has promised the people of West Virginia, ‘I will not vote for a bill that adds to the deficit that’s full of gimmicks,’ so I think [it] is dead forever,” added Graham. Senate Democrats have struggled to get their caucus unified behind the legislation.
‘Fake CBO score’ charge
Senator Graham cited a score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that he had requested, analyzed the Build Back Better Act and its repercussions should it be made permanent, and found that the legislation would add $3 trillion in spending.
In comparison, the CBO said that the House-passed version of the bill would add $200 billion to the deficit over the same period. Graham said that the bill written in the Senate is a “lie.”
“The CBO and the inflation number last Friday, I think, kill Build Back Better. They were trying to pass a lie, and God bless Joe Manchin for sticking to his guns,” said Graham.
The White House is objecting to the Graham-requested CBO report, with press secretary Jen Psaki calling it “a fake CBO score.”
The Senate is looking to pass the massive bill through budget reconciliation, which would only require a majority vote to pass, bucking a potential GOP filibuster.
However, all Democrats must be on board to send the bill to Biden’s desk for signature, including Manchin.