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With the nation’s economy showing strength and inflation at its highest in 39 years, Sen. Chuck Grassley sees no possibility Senate Republicans will support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan if it ever comes up for a vote.
The likelihood of a Senate vote on the nearly $2 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives appears unlikely in the near future, with at least one Democrat in the 50-50 Senate still resisting his party’s priority.
“Their massive social spending bill is on life support right now,” Grassley said Wednesday, adding that’s fine with Grassley and other Republicans who see the plan as unneeded and inflationary.
“Republicans probably will not support anything that's $1.8 trillion because we all voted against $1.9 trillion that was passed in March on a party-line vote,” Grassley said during his weekly call with reporters.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the Democrats’ chief remaining holdout, said he’s not currently negotiating with the White House but didn’t rule out continuing talks. His concerns include the measure’s impact on inflation and federal deficits.
Although Grassley supported earlier rounds of coronavirus pandemic aid, he cited warnings from Lawrence Summers — a former advisers to Presidents Clinton and Obama who warned the $1.8 trillion Build Back Better plans would contribute to inflation, which has risen to 6.8 percent — as a reason to oppose the plan.
Congressional Democrats have called those fears unfounded, and Biden “absolutely” wants to reach an agreement on the bill with Manchin and other lawmakers, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
No vote in planned on Build Back Better while the Senate focuses on a different Democratic priority, voting rights legislation.
However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said “the stakes are high for us to find common ground” on the social and environment bill, which has been Biden’s primary domestic priority for months. Democrats, he said, will “keep working until we get something done.”
It will have to be without GOP support, Grassley said, adding that Republicans are not being included in the negotiations.
“It's all being done behind closed doors with just Democrats in room,” Grassley said.
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