Manchin: No Talks on Build Back Better Plan

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Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin on Tuesday said there were no current discussions on President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan after talks recently collapsed with the White House.

“There is no negotiations going on at this time,” he told reporters.

Manchin was also skepitcal on Democrats’ plan to change the filibuster along party lines, warning that his “preference” is for any rules changes to be bipartisan.

“Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option. It’s very, very difficult. It’s a heavy lift,” Manchin said. The “nuclear option” refers to a plan in which Democrats would change the 60-vote legislative filibuster on their own.

“I’m talking. I’m not agreeing to any of this. … I want to talk and see all the options we have open,” Manchin said, adding that it was his “preference” that any rule changes have Republican support.

Senators have continued intensive discussions with Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema throughout the holiday break, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN, and seven or eight of them will discuss the different proposals in the meeting with Manchin.

“The bottom line is this: They must allow us to pass these two vital pieces of legislation, even if not a single Republican joins us,” Schumer said.

On Monday, Schumer said the narrowly Democratic-controlled chamber needed to consider a change to its filibuster rule after a wave of Republican-led states last year passed new restrictions on voting, inspired by Republican former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election he lost by a substantial margin.

Senate Democrats tried to bring the voting-rights bill to a floor vote four times last year, and were repeatedly blocked by Republicans, who made use of the filibuster rule that requires 60 of the 100 senators to agree to advance most legislation.

Democrats could change the chamber’s rules with just a simple majority, but two centrist members of their party — Manchin and Sinema — have repeatedly voiced objection to doing so.

“We’re exploring a variety of ways to change the rules [that would] allow us to pass these two important pieces of legislation,” Schumer said. There are definitive proposals out there, he said without elaborating.