US President Joe Biden’s administration said it was working to make progress on social safety net budget legislation after a key Senate Democrat said he could not support it.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the administration is ready to work hard with Senator Joe Manchin and other members of the Democratic caucus to achieve its targets.
“What the president thinks the most is the risk of inaction,” Psaki said. “And if we don’t act to finalize this legislation and the components in it, not only will costs and prices increase for the American people, but we will also see the direction of economic growth not going the way we want it to.”
Manchin is the focus of talks within the Democratic Party as leaders seek to pass a $2 trillion package this week. This legislation includes plans to expand health care for older Americans, provide universal pre-kindergarten classes, allow new funds to fight climate change and offer more financial support to low-income Americans.
Manchin has expressed opposition to the spending amount. In a radio interview on Monday (20/12), he reiterated that in his view the legislation covers too many expenses without being accompanied by adequate restrictions on income or employment requirements for recipients.
Earlier on Monday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate would vote “very early in the new year” on the revised version of the legislation that the House has approved.
Manchin’s vote is crucial to Democrats in the politically divided Senate as they seek to pass one of the key elements on Biden’s legislative agenda. None of the 50 Republicans in the 100-member assembly supported the plan.
Democrats had hoped to pass the legislation by 51-50 votes before Christmas, with Vice President Kamala Harris the decisive vote. [uh/ab]