Sen. Joe Manchin, just days before he called off negotiations with President Joe Biden, proposed a version of the Build Back Better plan centered on universal pre-kindergarten program, funded for a full 10 years, as well as an expansion of the Affordable Care Act and hundreds of billions of dollars to address climate change, a person with direct knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN.
The proposal, which was viewed as a counter-offer in long-running negotiations on Biden’s proposal, did not include an extension of the expanded child tax credit, a central priority for Biden and Democrats. CNN reported last week Manchin had proposed leaving the tax credit, which Biden’s proposal extended for an additional year, out of a final deal due to concerns over overall cost and structure.
CNN has reported that the West Virginia Democrat presented the White House with a roughly $1.8 trillion proposal during discussions last week. In addition to universal pre-K and the Obamacare subsidies, the proposal also included several hundred billion for climate change mitigation efforts, though the climate policy itself was scaled back from the House-passed version,, the person said.
The additional specifics of Manchin’s proposal were first reported by The Washington Post.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in a Sunday statement on the senator’s announcement that he opposed the bill, alluded to the proposal, which White House officials were in the process of attempting to find ways to address and counter when Manchin pulled out of the talks, people familiar with the matter said..
“On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted – to the President, in person, directly – a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the President’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki said. “While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.”
Manchin on Sunday said he’s a “no” on the Build Back Better Act, effectively ending negotiations on the current version of legislation that would expand the nation’s social safety net.
The centrist Democrat had always been a key holdout for the legislation, sharing concerns over certain provisions of the massive tax and spending bill and how it may exacerbate soaring inflation in the country.
“And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is a no on this legislation. I have tried everything I know to do. And the President has worked diligently. He’s been wonderful to work with. He knows I’ve had concerns and the problems I’ve had and, you know, the thing that we should all be directing our attention towards the variant, a Covid that we have coming back at us in so many different aspects in different ways, it’s affecting our lives again.”
Manchin had previously raised multiple concerns about the legislation, which passed the Democrat-controlled House last month. He wanted to pare down the bill in several areas, including paid family leave, a methane fee on emissions from energy producers and a Medicare expansion to cover hearing costs. He was also seeking changes to some provisions in the tax portion of the bill.
The senator also was concerned about what the legislation would do to the nation’s rising debt and soaring inflation that came after Congress passed a sweeping stimulus bill earlier this year, as well as the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Manchin objected to the structure of the bill, arguing Democrats were hiding its true costs by relying on temporary programs that will be extended year after year. He repeatedly has said he wanted to keep the price tag at $1.75 trillion but said including temporary measures – such as a one-year extension of an expansion of the child tax credit, which expires at this month’s end – is not “transparent” to the public about the impact it would have on federal spending.
A person familiar with the discussions between Biden and Manchin told CNN on Sunday that it was clear Manchin was headed in this direction as Biden privately told aides last week that he was no longer confident the West Virginia Democrat could ultimately get on board. But White House officials were surprised when Manchin’s team informed them Sunday morning he had already arrived at a final decision.
The President learned his chief negotiating partner was pulling the plug from White House aides, who did not hear the news directly from the senator but from a member of his staff roughly 30 minutes before he went on air. Manchin wouldn’t take a call from White House staff who tried to reach him Sunday morning, according to a senior administration official. As of Sunday night, the two still had not spoken, according to a senior administration official.
This story has been updated with additional background information.
CNN’s Daniella Diaz, Lauren Fox, Chandelis Duster, Aaron Pellish, Sarah Fortinsky, Kaitlin Collins and John Harwood contributed to this report.