Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) presented a paired-down version of President Joe Biden‘s Build Back Better Act, a proposed $1.75 trillion social spending bill, after rejecting it back in December.

Manchin’s proposal axed key initiatives like expanded childcare, universal pre-kindergarten, paid family leave and long-term home health care. Instead, he put forward a reconciliation package aimed at reforming the tax code and lowering the costs of prescription drugs. Then, the revenue from that move will be split between lowing the federal deficit and inflation and playing for new climate and social programs.

“It just makes all the sense in the world. The one thing that we as Democrats all agreed on was the 2017 tax cuts were weighted unfairly. So if you want to fix the tax cuts and make everyone pay their fair share, whether it’s the very wealthiest or the corporations that pay nothing — I think the president identified that last night — then you have to fix the tax code,” Manchin said.

“Then you find out what revenues you have from that if you fix it,” he added.

The evenly split Senate needs the centrist senator’s vote for any shot to pass the legislation before the midterm election, but left-wing senators don’t want to leave behind initiatives they have been talking about for a year. Manchin argued that it’s most important to get America’s “fiscal house in order,”  especially since 2021 ended in inflation being at a 40-year high, before considering ambitious spending plans.

“If he wants to focus on an economic package, then he needs to remember child care is an economic issue,” responded Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).

Warren argued that child care affects inflation, “When you don’t have enough workers, then prices go up.”

Manchin reported that he has not had any “formal” talks with President Joe Biden, but that there’s been “informal back-and-forth.”

“I would hope he would reconsider, and realize how many people are being left behind,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) said. “We’ve got to keep going and try to get everything that we can get.”

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