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Rep. Cori Bush Wednesday lamented delays in Senate negotiations on Democrats' massive reconciliation spending bill, including the fact that Sen. Joe Manchin essentially has veto power over the legislation because the Senate is split 50-50.
"We must not undermine our power as a government nor the power of the people by placing the fate of Build Back Better at the feet of one senator: Joe Manchin," Bush, D-Mo., said.
"Today’s reporting that the Build Back Better Act may be put on the shelf for the foreseeable future is alarming," Bush added. "To my community, I promise you that I am doing everything in my power to ensure that this decision does not become permanent."
Rep. Cori Bush speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images) SENATE REPUBLICANS WARN BIDEN'S MASSIVE SPENDING PLAN COULD ‘BANKRUPT RELIGIOUS DAY CARE’
Manchin, D-W.Va., is seen as the key vote as Democrats try to advance the reconciliation bill through the Senate before Christmas – an arbitrary deadline that's looking less and less likely. Bush did not elaborate on how Democrats might get around Manchin's roadblock. They need his vote since Republicans are unanimously opposed to the bill.
President Biden talked with the senator twice this week, but there's been no agreement, as other Democrats' frustration with the West Virginia Democrat grows.
"I think it is appropriate for him to finally come to a conclusion as to what he will accept," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday.
But Manchin is pushing back on many elements of the bill, from its child tax credit to the short-term funding for many programs in the bill that he's said is essentially a gimmick to artificially lower the price.
Sen. Joe Manchin arrives for a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup on Nov. 18, 2021, in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Besides, Manchin said Wednesday, the Senate parliamentarian is still sifting through the lengthy legislation to find which provisions conform with the "Byrd Rule" that limits reconciliation bills specifically to fiscal programs.
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"We haven’t even gotten anything back from the parliamentarian, so just procedurally we have nothing to vote on," Manchin said, adding that there's "a lot of moving parts."
Bush's Wednesday statement also touched on the decision she and a handful of other progressives made to vote against the infrastructure bill to preserve the left wing of the party's leverage over the reconciliation process.
President Biden spoke with Sen. Joe Manchin about his spending proposal twice this week but did not make any progress. (Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)
"After spending months building support for the president’s entire agenda, I voted ‘No’ on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package because the Build Back Better Act had not yet passed the Senate, and the senators who had been blocking lifesaving funding had not yet made any public commitments to support the bill," Bush said.
"I put my reputation on the line to make it clear that we want to deliver the entire, much-needed, and long overdue Biden agenda," she added.
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Bush also slammed a push by some Democrats, like Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., that the party should put aside reconciliation temporarily and focus on passing an elections bill before Christmas. She said it's "unacceptable" to imply there's "a choice between this legislation and voting rights."
But Democrats might not have much of a choice.
They would almost certainly need to change the Senate's filibuster precedent to have any chance to pass an elections bill amid united GOP opposition. But Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are both opposed to any changes to the filibuster – even after the chamber allowed a one-time carve-out for the debt ceiling.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and Caroline McKee contributed to this report.
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