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World Insights: Major setback for U.S. Democrats as Biden's signature spending bill on thin ice

Dec 22, 2021

Washington (US), December 22: Democrats have encountered a major setback as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on Sunday dealt a death blow to his party's landmark Build Back Better plan.
After months of negotiations between moderate and progressive Democrats, Manchin publicly stated he would vote "no" on U.S. President Joe Biden's landmark 2-trillion-U.S.-dollar social spending bill.
The moderate Democrat has for months raised concerns about the bill's tax increases and provisions against domestic energy. He also has taken issue with the bill's cost at a time of sky-high national debt.
After months of record low poll numbers for Biden -- on the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, a surging crime wave and COVID-19, the bill was supposed to be a big win for Democrats.
Now, it's unclear what will occur next as opinions are still split over the bill after months of failed talks.
According to a report by NBC News on Monday, when asked whether the bill can be saved, a source familiar with Manchin's thinking said: "It's dead right now. Hypotheticals are possible I guess, but we are far from that when the president and Dem leadership are releasing statements like they did today."
The Party needs every Democratic Senator get on board in the most tightly split Senate in decades, and that could be a tall order, considering that both Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema held out for months before Manchin finally gave the legislation a "no."
Senator Lindsey Graham, the top-ranking GOP lawmaker on the Senate Budget Committee, said the bill was "dead forever."
Republican Senator John Cornyn said it would be tough for Democrats to pass a bill in the lead-up to the midterm elections.
"Every day that goes by makes it harder to pass because their so-called moderates start worrying about the voters in November. So I think this has been a positive development," he said, noting that the bill did not pass before the holiday season.
Meanwhile, some Democrats have expressed determination to pass the social spending bill.
"At the start of these negotiations many months ago, we called for prioritizing doing a few things well for longer, and we believe that adopting such an approach could open a potential path forward for this legislation," Democratic Representative Suzan DelBene said in a statement.
In a letter to lawmakers on Monday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will vote "very early in the new year" on a tweaked bill.
"We are going to vote on a revised version of the House-passed Build Back Better Act, and we will keep voting on it until we get something done," he said.
Some analysts believe new legislation is still possible if it is downsized or broken down to smaller bills.
Christopher Galdieri, an assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua it's "quite possible we get a new bill with a similar price tag that mainly does what Manchin wants it to do, at which point the job Biden and the congressional leadership face will be getting progressives to accept it."
"Democrats likely will downsize the bill or pull out a few key components and enact those provisions...Manchin has shown an openness to a smaller and more targeted bill," Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua that one possibility "is to break the bill into smaller bills and vote on them one by one, and see what Manchin and Sinema do on each."
Source: Xinhua