Democrats Hope to Revive Their Spending Bill. Sinema Could Stand in the Way.

Democrats Hope to Revive Their Spending Bill. Sinema Could Stand in the Way.

Michael Brochstein/SIPA USA

Senate Democrats still hope to revive the bill formerly known as Build Back Better, making another push to enact a package of tax reforms, climate and prescription drug pricing programs over the coming months. But while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has discussed a scaled-back version of the legislation that he nixed in December — and some Democrats reportedly stand prepared to embrace whatever plan Manchin would back — their efforts could be complicated, or doomed, by the other holdout in their caucus: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

In closed-door conversations, Sinema has told donors a path to revival is unlikely,” Axios’s Hans Nichols reported Tuesday night. “That's dampened expectations Congress will act on a slimmed-down bill before Memorial Day. It also means any revived BBB legislation faces an arduous route back to the center of the Senate agenda.”

Nichols reported that Sinema has told donors that her focus is mainly on other pieces of legislation, including the $10 billion Covid relief bill, which has been put on hold this week after Senate Republicans demanded a vote on an amendment to reinstate a Trump-era pandemic immigration policy that the Biden administration just ended.

The bottom line: The challenge of crafting a bill that can win the support of both Manchin and Sinema isn’t new. Sinema last year balked at proposals to raise tax rates on corporations and top earners, forcing Democrats to find other ways to raise revenue in their bill. Manchin has made clear he prefers to roll back some of the 2017 Republican tax cuts. As Politico reported earlier this week: “One Democrat who regularly talks to Manchin doubted whether any party-line bill checking his boxes is achievable at this point, citing the mismatch between Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s (D-Ariz.) and Manchin’s tax positions. The Arizona Democrat prefers surtaxes on the wealthy and big corporations, not the tax rate increases that Manchin likes.”