U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration says it is looking to push ahead with work on a social safety net spending bill after a key Democrat in the Senate said he could not support it.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Monday that the administration is ready to “work like hell” with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and other members of the Democratic caucus in order to achieve its goal.
“What’s most on the President’s mind is the risk of inaction,” Psaki said. “And if we do not act to get this legislation done and the components in it, not only will costs and prices go up for the American people, but also we will see a trajectory in economic growth that is not where we want it to be.”
Manchin has been a focal point in talks within the Democratic Party as leaders pushed to get the $2 trillion package passed by this week. The legislation includes plans to expand health care for older Americans, provide universal pre-kindergarten classes, authorize new funding to combat climate change and offer more financial support for low-income Americans.
Manchin has expressed opposition to the amount of spending, and in a radio interview Monday he reiterated that in his view the bill included too much spending without enough restrictions on incomes or work requirements for recipients.
Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote “very early in the new year” on a revised version of the bill already approved by the House of Representatives.
Manchin’s vote is essential for Democrats in the politically divided Senate as they try to pass one of the key elements of Biden’s legislative agenda. None of the 50 Republicans in the 100-member chamber supports the plan.
Democrats had hoped to push through the legislation on a 51-50 vote before Christmas, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tie-breaking vote.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.