Pelosi's Latest Move Shows Build Back Better Is Toast as Manchin Delivers Final Blow

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

In the wake of the red wave that swept Republicans in and handed Democrats a disastrous message, where does that leave Joe Biden’s legislative agenda when the Democrats’ extremism has been so soundly rejected? It’s not looking good for him — more like stick a fork in it, at this point.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that she would be catering to that extremism even more by her actions after the election.

Pelosi appeared to throw caution to the wind with a challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) by putting paid family leave back into the what is now the $1.75 trillion (by Democratic counting) Build Back Better bill. The White House had ultimately removed that in their final “framework” after pressures from Manchin about costs.

“It had been my intention throughout this process to put on the House floor and pass a bill that would pass the Senate in the same form. Because I have been informed by a senator of opposition to a few of the priorities contained in our bill and because we must have legislation agreed to by the House and the Senate in the final version of the Build Back Better Act that we will send to the President’s desk, we must strive to find common ground in the legislation,” she wrote.

“As we are reviewing priorities and at the urging of many Members of the Caucus, I have asked the Ways and Means Committee for its legislation for Paid Family and Medical Leave to be included in this morning’s hearing.”

The provision is expected to call for four weeks of paid family leave, a senior Democratic aide confirmed to The Post.

Manchin’s response? It shouldn’t be done through reconciliation.

“That’s the first I’m hearing of it,” Manchin told reporters. “That’s a challenge. Very much of a challenge, and [top Democrats] know how I feel about that.” He said that he wasn’t against paid leave per se but said he wanted “do it in a bipartisan way.” He also said he didn’t think that the proper way to address it was through the reconciliation process. “Let’s do that in a proper [way]. We’re trying to force it through reconciliation, which has guardrails and rules and regulations. Let’s do it and do it right.”

Democratic leadership asked their members to let them know by Thursday how they intended to vote.

But it wasn’t just Manchin and folks in the upper chamber of the Senate with issues.

“There needs to be some level of understanding as to whether or not this bill as written can survive the Senate procedural process, because after all, we’re using the reconciliation process so that we can get these this proposal signed into law,” Blue Dog Coalition Chair Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told reporters.

“The infrastructure bill is ready to go. It has been written. It has a CBO score. It was passed in a bipartisan way out of the Senate and it is ready for passage. I believe with all I just said about what has transpired with the BBB in the last 24-48 hours that it’s not quite ready yet. If we want to take action the action should be taken on the infrastructure vote because we’re ready for that vote.”

What does all this mean? I think it’s actually an indication that Pelosi has lost and she knows it. Pelosi made this move after the elections knowing that they have no real mandate to do this and that she likely knows the Build Back Better bill is not going to pass. So she’s throwing all caution to the wind and putting paid leave back in, knowing it and other provisions are going to make Manchin and others balk. But this way, she looks like she did all she could to the folks on the left that want those provisions and she can put the blame for the “failure” on Manchin and the moderates. She can go out, saying she did everything she could but the mean ones loused it up for everyone when the Republicans take over control in 2022.