President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address was long on Ukraine, inflation, the economy, and recent White House accomplishments but absent comment on the Build Back Better (BBB) legislation, which has been declared dead. Any chance of revival, according to the administration and several lawmakers, can come only through a fragmented approach to pass at least some BBB proposals in separate bills.
Instead of the BBB, Biden presented a laundry list of his priorities: the Paycheck Fairness Act, lowering prescription drug prices, paid leave, expanding background checks on gun sales, the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and immigration reform. In addition, he cited increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and setting aside more funds to battle climate change. Biden also called for universal pre-K, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, increased affordable housing and improvements to health care. He referred to his initiatives as “Building a Better America,” which he said would fight inflation and lower the deficit.
By avoiding mention of the BBB and focusing more on the economy, the White House hoped to send a message to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA, whose resistance to BBB over its cost led to its demise. “I don’t know where that came from,” Manchin said following the speech. “Nothing’s changed.” He added that there have been no formal talks with the administration on a reconciliation bill.
House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady, R-TX, said that “when it comes to the economy, the president’s disconnected from reality here.”
Brady said Biden “needs to end the Build Back Better provisions, because some of them drive up child care costs and other issues that would actually discourage Americans from returning to work.”
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