Biden emphasizes need for Build Back Better, citing a more just tax system – as it happened

4 months ago

Biden emphasizes need for Build Back Better, citing a more just tax system – as it happened

The Guardian

Today in summary

That’s all from me on the west coast, here are some of the notable moments from throughout the day:

  • Kamala Harris visited southern California to spotlight a bevy of investments at the federal and state levels in wildfire preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • Mississippi’s Black senators walked out of legislature and withheld their vote in protest of a bill that would would ban schools from teaching critical race theory.
  • People are bracing for an anti-vaccine rally in Washington DC that has been largely organized on Facebook and is expected to draw tens of thousands of people.
  • Biden emphasized the need to pass Build Back Better, arguing it will help create a fairer tax system in the US. Speaking at the US Conference of Mayors’ meeting in Washington today, Biden said it was vital that the wealthiest Americans pay their “fair share” in taxes.
  • Democrats are attempting to revive their Build Back Better Act, a month after Senator Joe Manchin announced he would oppose the legislation. Joe Biden said on Wednesday, “I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law.” Manchin has indicated Democrats will be “starting from scratch” in their negotiations.

Have a great weekend.

Updated

Anti-vaccine rally planned for this weekend in Washington DC

Thousands of protesters, including prolific anti-vaccine figures are expected to flood the streets of DC to protest vaccine mandates.

The event was primarily organized on the “Defeat the Mandates DC” Facebook group and on smaller far-right internet platforms. According to NBC News, hotels in Virginia are already fully booked and organizers have crowdfunded at least $200,000 ahead of the planned demonstration.

The permit for the rally was filed by the Children’s Health Defense an anti-vaccine nonprofit founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr. Dr Robert Malone, a virologist who has become a leading anti-vaccine voice is also slated to speak.

Read more ahead of the planned demonstration here.

Updated

A Texas man has been arrested and federally charged for allegedly threatening to kill Georgia election workers and other state officials. This is the first case brought by the Department of Justice’s election threats task force.

According to the indictment, Chad Christopher Stark, 54, posted a message on Craigslist on 5 January, 2021, with the title “Georgia Patriots it’s time to kill [Official A] the Chinese agent - $10,000,” according to an NPR report on the arrest.

These types of threats have been happening across the US since Donald Trump lost the the 2020 election and began pushing false claims that he was cheated out of a second term due to widespread election fraud.

Read the rest of NPR’s writeup of Stark’s case here.

Mississippi’s Black senators walked out of legislature and withheld their vote in protest of a bill that would would ban schools from teaching critical race theory.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Michael McLendon, a Republican senator says that constituents have heard about the theory in the news and don’t want it taught in schools, according to a Washington Post write-up of the Black senators’ walkout. But, the state superintendent has said that critical race theory is not being taught in public schools and no one has presented evidence indicating that it has been previously.

Still, Senate bill 2113 passed by a vote of 32-2. Watch footage of the senators’ walk out below.

Updated

Kamala Harris has just wrapped up her remarks on the federal government’s investment in wildfire preparedness and recovery in California and throughout the west.

In addition to highlighting the promise of satellites to understand and respond to blazes, and increasing pay for federal firefighters, the vice-president underscored the following:

  • $600m of a $1.3bn federal grant for disaster relief will go to California
  • $1bn in wildfire prevention grants that were recently approved by state lawmakers
  • $5bn in wildfire preparation and response earmarked in Biden’s infrastructure bill

Harris also emphasized the need for federal, state and local collaboration to deal with fires that are increasing in frequency and intensity each season.

“We cannot respond only in reaction to a moment of harm or danger ... we are our best when local, state and federal work together, hand in hand, unencumbered by partisanship or politics,” Harris said.

Updated

Ahead of Kamala Harris’ statements, Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his gratitude for the current administration’s willingness to support California’s wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts.

This is a profound, existential moment ... but it’s also a moment of optimism ... These efforts means nothing without the support – not just financial – from the Biden-Harris administration,” Newsom said at San Bernardino county’s Del Rosa fire station.

He also acknowledged Greenville and Paradise, two California cities that were all but obliterated by wildfires in 2021 and 2018 respectively.

My colleague Dani Anguiano recently wrote about where things stand in Greenville. Read her coverage here.

Updated

As we await Kamala Harris’ remarks here is some background on the setting she is in:

San Bernardino County in California’s Inland Empire is notoriously fire-prone and has been especially hard hit by blazes including the 2020 El Dorado fire that was sparked by a pyrotechnic device used during a gender-reveal party and burned for more than three weeks.

Read my west coast colleague Gabrielle Cannon’s coverage of that incident here:

Kamala Harris goes to San Bernardino to promote Biden administration wildfire response efforts

The vice-president came to southern California to give remarks on a $600m federal investment meant to help the state recover from unprecedentedly devastating wildfires over recent years.

Harris joined California governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Alex Padilla and secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Watch the livestream here:

Updated

Good afternoon, this is Abené Clayton blogging from sunny Los Angeles.

Kamala Harris is in Southern California today with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to promote the Biden administration’s $3 billion investment in wildfire preparedness and response.

I’ll have more on the vice president’s remarks later in the day.

A live stream of the event can be found here.

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Abené Clayton, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Democrats are attempting to revive their Build Back Better Act, a month after Senator Joe Manchin announced he would oppose the legislation. Joe Biden said on Wednesday, “I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law.” Manchin has indicated Democrats will be “starting from scratch” in their negotiations.
  • Biden emphasized the need to pass Build Back Better, arguing it will help create a fairer tax system in the US. Speaking at the US Conference of Mayors’ meeting in Washington today, Biden said it was vital that the wealthiest Americans pay their “fair share” in taxes.
  • Politico published a draft executive order from the Trump administration that outlines a plan to seize voting machines in battleground states. The order, which was never sent, was part of a collection of documents turned over to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection after the supreme court rejected Trump’s efforts to block the documents’ release.
  • The US said Biden is “fully prepared” to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin, as fears intensify over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. US secretary of state Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva today to continue the two countries’ discussions over Ukraine.
  • Biden delivered remarks on the need to boost US production of semiconductors, which power everything from cell phones to electrical grids. During the event, the CEO of Intel announced his company would invest more than $20bn to build a semiconductor production facility in Ohio.

Abené will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

And the Manhattan US attorney’s office, which is investigating Rudy Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, has now received thousands of documents from the Trump lawyer’s devices, which were seized by investigators last April.

The Washington Post reports:

The retired federal judge assigned to review the contents of 18 electronic devices seized from Rudolph W. Giuliani’s home and offices in Manhattan last spring has withheld about half of what former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer argued should be kept out of the hands of investigators because it was privileged.

More than 3,000 communications were released to prosecutors on Wednesday, an action reflected in a four-page report submitted to a judge overseeing litigation on the FBI’s April 28 seizure of Giuliani’s phones and computers. The contents of the devices were not disclosed.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has been investigating Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine while he was representing Trump. Prosecutors have said Giuliani might have acted as an unregistered foreign agent, which was the basis for the agents’ search. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York who also once headed the prosecutor’s office that now has him under a microscope, has denied any wrongdoing.

Giuliani has also attracted the attention of the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, which issued a subpoena to the Trump ally this week.

In his statement announcing the subpoena of Giuliani and three other Trump lawyers, committee chairman Bennie Thompson said each person had “advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes”.

Meanwhile, the National Archives has turned over hundreds of pages of documents from the Trump administration to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection, per Guardian contributor Hugo Lowell.

The news comes two days after the US supreme court rejected Donald Trump’s request to block the release of the documents based off claims of executive privilege.

The newly released documents are expected to include call logs, daily presidential diaries, handwritten notes and memos from Trump’s top aides.

Draft Trump order told defense chief to seize voting machines

In the heady days between Donald Trump’s defeat in November 2020 and the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, an executive order was prepared. It commanded the defense secretary to seize voting machines in battleground states, as part of Trump’s “big lie” that the vote was rigged.

The draft executive order, obtained and published by Politico, was never sent and its author is unknown.

It was part of a cache of documents handed over to the House committee investigating the 6 January violence, after the supreme court ruled this week that Trump could not shield himself from oversight on grounds of executive privilege.

The disclosure of the draft order adds to evidence of the lengths to which Trump and his close advisers were prepared to go to keep him in the White House, against the will of the American people.

Under the draft order, the defense secretary would have been required to carry out an assessment of the voting machines “no later than 60 days from commencement of operations”.

Read the Guardian’s full report:

In case you missed it yesterday: the US supreme court declined to expedite the case over Texas’ abortion law, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The AP reports:

Over dissents from the three liberal justices, the court declined to order a federal appeals court to return the case to a federal judge who had temporarily blocked the law’s enforcement. The court offered no explanation for its action.

The Texas ban is thus likely to remain in effect for the foreseeable future, following a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court, which is entirely controlled by Republican justices and does not have to act immediately.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, also marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v Wade during her daily briefing this afternoon.

“Reproductive health care has been under extreme and relentless assault ever since [Roe was decided], especially in recent months,” Psaki said.

The press secretary noted it had been nearly 150 days since the Texas abortion law, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, went into effect.

“We’re deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care and we will defend it with every tool we have,” Psaki said.

Psaki added that the Biden administration is continuing its efforts with Congress to codify Roe v Wade into law, but that goal will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to achieve with Democrats’ current narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

The theme of this year’s March for Life was “equality begins in the womb.” Organizers wrapped their speeches in the rhetoric of the social justice movement, arguing that abortion was anathema to racial and gender equality.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, decried Roe v Wade decision handed down by an all-male majority on the supreme court in 1973.

“Murder is not a women’s right,” read one sign carried by a young man in a Donald Trump beanie. Another popular sign read “BLM = Babies Lives Matter.”

A memo by reproductive rights organization Naral accused the anti-abortion movement of “co-opting social justice rhetoric in order to make its extreme agenda appear more palatable.”

“In this critical moment for the future of reproductive freedom, we must call out the anti-choice movement’s fake ‘feminism’ for what it is: a tactic for maintaining white, patriarchal control,” it read.

March for Life speakers dream of post-Roe future

It’s Roe’s 49th anniversary this weekend. Abortion opponents are hopeful it’ll be the last.

At the annual March for Life demonstration in D.C., anti-abortion activists were optimistic the Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a woman’s right to abortion access.

“We are hoping and praying that this year, 2022, will bring a historic change for life,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said.

The crowd for the march was tens of thousands strong, and attendees waved signs that read: “I am the post-Roe generation” and “the future is anti-abortion.”

Speaking at the rally, Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said there was “fresh hope and heightened expectations” that a new conservative-supermajority on the Supreme Court would reverse Roe, overturning nearly half a century of precedent on abortion rights.

In his speech at the US Conference of Mayors’ meeting, Joe Biden also announced a new partnership with state and local governments aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

The Hill has more details on the initiative:

According to a White House fact sheet first shared with The Hill, the partnership will include 33 state and local governments that encompass 20 percent of the country’s building footprint and 22 percent of its population.

The fact sheet said that the initiative will ‘unlock energy efficiency and electrification across the buildings sector as an engine for job creation all while lowering energy bills for consumers.’

The goal of the coalition is to advance legislation or regulation in each local or state jurisdiction by Earth Day 2024.

Biden calls for passage of Build Back Better, citing need for fairer tax system

Joe Biden once again emphasized the need to pass the Build Back Better Act, Democrats $1.75tn spending package that includes significant investments in childcare, healthcare and climate initiatives.

The president said the bill would also establish a more just tax system in the US, arguing it was time for the wealthiest Americans to pay their “fair share” in taxes.

“Raise your hand if you think the present tax structure is fair. And we’ll take a picture of you and send it home,” Biden joked, prompting laughs from the crowd at the US Conference of Mayors’ meeting.

The Build Back Better Act has stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Democrat Joe Manchin, but there were signs of renewed energy to restart negotiations this week.

The president closed his remarks with his standard pitch about American resilience, and he applauded the mayors’ work for their cities and towns.

“Keep it going, folks. We need you badly,” Biden told the mayors.

Updated

Biden addresses US Conferences of Mayors

Joe Biden is now speaking at the US Conference of Mayors’ 90th annual winter meeting in Washington, touting the accomplishments of his first year in office.

The president specifically celebrated the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which he signed into law in November.

Biden also addressed reiterated his position on the need to increase funding for police departments, a stance that is at odds with many progressives in his party.

“We shouldn’t be cutting funding for police departments,” Biden said. “I proposed increasing funding.”

New DOJ elections threat taskforce makes first arrest after Texas man makes alleged death threats

A special Justice Department unit created to combat threats against election officials made its first arrest on Friday after a man allegedly posted threats online against Georgia election workers.

Chad Stark, a 54 year-old resident of Texas, was arrested by law enforcement after officials allege he posted a message on Craigslist on 5 January 2021 saying that he wanted “Georgia Patriots” to kill several election officials.

Stark was charged with one count of communicating interstate threats, which has a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He is expected to make his first appearance in an Austin, Texas court on Friday afternoon.

Stark’s arrest marks the first criminal case brought by this interagency election threats taskforce. The unit was created in June 2021 under the Biden administration to help address a rise in threats to election workers following the 2020 presidential election.

“The Justice Department has a responsibility not only to protect the right to vote, but also to protect those who administer our voting systems from violence and illegal threats of violence,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Updated

Michael Flynn allies allegedly plotted to lean on Republicans to back vote audits

Peter Stone reports for the Guardian:

FBI agents and the House panel investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol have both learned of an alleged plan by allies of retired army Lt Gen Michael Flynn to gather “intelligence” on top Republicans to “move” them to back election audits in key states Trump lost, said ex-whistleblower Everett Stern who talked to the panel and the FBI.

Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advise
Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advise Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Stern, who runs the intelligence firm Tactical Rabbit and is a Republican vying for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, in multiple interviews with the Guardian said two Flynn associates with the rightwing Patriot Caucus group enlisted his help in April in a scheme to seek potentially damaging information on two Republican members of Congress to prod them to back an audit of the 2020 vote that Joe Biden won.

Stern told the Guardian he spent several hours in November telling House panel investigators about the alleged drive by Flynn associates who sought campaign finance and other dirt on Pennsylvania’s Senator Pat Toomey and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick to win their support for an audit to bolster Trump’s debunked charges that Biden’s win was fraudulent.’

See the full story below ...

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Democrats are attempting to revive their Build Back Better Act, a month after Senator Joe Manchin announced he would oppose the legislation. Joe Biden said on Wednesday, “I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law.” Manchin has said Democrats will be “starting from scratch” in their negotiations.
  • The US said Biden is “fully prepared” to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin, as fears intensify over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. US secretary of state Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva today to continue the two countries’ discussions over Ukraine.
  • Biden delivered remarks on the need to boost US production of semiconductors, which power everything from cell phones to electrical grids. During the event, the CEO of Intel announced his company would invest more than $20bn in a semiconductor production facility in Ohio.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

A reporter asked Jen Psaki whether the White House believes certain provisions of the Build Back Better Act could attract the support of 10 Senate Republicans to overcome a potential filibuster.

“You tell me,” Psaki replied. “Is there a proposal where there are 10 Republicans? I’m not aware of one.”

The question comes two days after Joe Biden expressed confidence that “big chunks” of the Build Back Better Act could still get enacted.

That sparked questions about whether the bill would be split into several components, but that would likely mean those proposals would not be eligible for passage via reconciliation, which allows Democrats to circumvent the Senate filibuster.

Psaki seemed to indicate Democrats were still focused on passing a package via reconciliation, saying, “What the president was talking about is, we have 50 votes in the Senate. We’re going to get as much -- a big, mountain-sized chunk, whatever you want to call it -- as much as we can of the Build Back Better agenda that we can get 50 votes for.”

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters, and she is answering questions about the Biden administration’s talks with Russia amid concerns of a potential invasion of Ukraine.

Secretary of state Antony Blinken met with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva today to continue the discussions over Ukraine.

Psaki said that Blinken communicated Russia would suffer “swift and severe consequences” if President Vladimir Putin launches an invasion.

The press secretary added that, while there were no major breakthroughs in the talks today, the US is still urging Russia to pursue a path of “dialogue and diplomacy”.

“It is up to them to decide which path they are going to choose,” Psaki said. “We are on a clearer path to understanding each other’s concerns.”

Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed the importance of the US-Japanese alliance and potential responses to Russian aggression during their virtual meeting this morning, the White House said.

“The President commended Prime Minister Kishida’s strong commitment to the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and his determination to fundamentally strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities to reinforce deterrence against common threats,” the White House said in its readout of the meeting.

“The leaders committed to work closely together to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine, and Prime Minister Kishida pledged to continue close coordination with the United States, other Allies and partners, and the international community on taking strong action in response to any attack.”

The White House also noted that Biden “welcomed Prime Minister Kishida’s invitation to visit Japan for the next Quad Leaders Meeting in the first half of 2022”.

Joe Biden initially indicated he would not take any questions from reporters, out of concern that it would shift focus away from Intel’s announcement about its new semiconductor facility in Ohio.

“You guys will ask me all about Russia and not about anything having to do with chips,” Biden said.

But one reporter was able to ask the president a question regarding today’s announcement, specifically about how the US will source raw materials to produce semiconductor chips when much of those materials come from countries like Afghanistan.

“There’s a lot not in Afghanistan,” Biden said. He added that the US is pursuing research to identify new sources of raw materials, including some potential locations within the country.

With that, Biden walked away from the podium without taking any additional questions.

Joe Biden celebrated Intel’s announcement that it will invest more than $20bn to build a semiconductor production facility in Ohio.

“To be able to say ‘made in Ohio,’ ‘made in America,’ what we used to always be able to say 25, 30 years ago -- that’s what this is about,” Biden said.

The president noted that semiconductors power “virtually everything in our lives,” including cell phones, cars and electrical grids.

Biden argued investments like Intel’s will allow the US to pursue a “stiff economic and technological competition” with China, which has dedicated significant resources to building up its domestic semiconductor industry.

“I think we’re better positioned than any nation -- any nation -- to seize these opportunities,” Biden said. “And I think our best days are ahead of us.”

Intel announces $20bn investment in Ohio semiconductor facility at White House

Joe Biden is now hosting an event on the need to boost US production of semiconductors, and he is joined by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo.

Gelsinger announced that Intel will invest more than $20bn to build a “megasite” in Ohio dedicated to producing semiconductor chips.

Ohio’s two senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, are present for the event as well, and Gelsinger thanked them for their support.

Gelsinger said a semiconductor factory is really more like a “small city” that will serve as a “magnet for the entire tech industry”.

“And all of this is creating new jobs,” Gelsinger said.

Updated

Meanwhile, Joe Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida this morning to “advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” per the president’s official schedule.

Biden shared a picture of the meeting on Twitter, saying, “It was an honor to meet with Prime Minister Kishida to further strengthen the U.S.-Japan Alliance — the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.”

During the talks in Geneva, US secretary of state Antony Blinken told Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the White House still hopes to deescalate tensions along Ukraine’s border before an invasion occurs.

“In my meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov today, I stressed that Russia has two choices: Diplomacy and de-escalation or massive costs to Russia. Our strong preference is to pursue the path of diplomacy,” Blinken said on Twitter.

Joe Biden sent a similar message yesterday, saying he has warned Putin that his country will suffer massive economic consequences if he approves an invasion.

“I’ve been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any -- any -- assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said.

“Let there be no doubt at all that if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.”

Biden ‘fully prepared’ to hold summit with Putin over Ukraine tensions

The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Patrick Wintour report:

The US has said that Joe Biden is “fully prepared” to hold a summit with Vladimir Putin if it would be useful in lessening the threat to Ukraine posed by a continuing Russian build up of troops.

The US secretary of state, Tony Blinken, also said Washington and its allies were ready to respond in writing next week to Russian demands on the future of Nato and European security, which Moscow has said must be addressed to avoid it taking “military measures”.

But Blinken repeated the US and Nato position there could still be no compromise on the central issue of the right of Ukraine and other countries to join Nato in the future.

The offer of a summit came after talks between Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, as a weeks-long standoff over Ukraine teeters on the cusp of a pivotal and potentially violent phase, with rising concerns that Europe may again be beset by war.

In his remarks to the press afterwards, Blinken stressed it had not been a negotiation but a “candid exchange of concerns and ideas”, which had been “frank and substantive” and should lead to further talks.

Read the Guardian’s full report:

Despite the hurdles that a revamped Build Back Better Act would face, there seems to be some growing consensus among Democrats that the bill should focus on addressing climate change, extending Obamacare subsidies and establishing free prekindergarten.

“I remain very optimistic that we can get big pieces of the plan over the finish line, including reducing the price of prescription drugs, expanding opportunity with early education, making child care more affordable [and] addressing the climate crisis,” Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen told the Washington Post.

At this point, it seems unlikely that Democrats will be able to resurrect the expanded Child Tax Credit program, which expired at the end of 2021.

Joe Manchin has expressed concern about the price tag of the Build Back Better Act, and the expanded Child Tax Credit program would cost about $1.6tn for the next ten years if it were made permanent. (The House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act only calls for extending the program for one year.)

Joe Biden marked one year in office yesterday, and the president is struggling to enact his legislative agenda with narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans were able to block Democrats’ voting rights bill by using the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most proposals to advance.

Senate Democrats then tried to amend the filibuster to create a carveout for voting rights bills, but that effort failed because two of their own members, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, joined Republicans in opposing the suggested change.

The failures have sparked questions over whether Biden should revamp his White House staff as he enters his second year in office.

NBC News reports:

From inside the administration, some officials express concern that [White House chief of staff Ron Klain] ‘micromanages’ the West Wing and gives outsize credence to cable news and social media. Some former colleagues and longtime Biden allies fret that advice they used to offer Biden directly isn’t getting through. And on Capitol Hill, Klain has been a favorite target for Democrats, and especially Republicans, who say Biden has drifted too far to the left. ...

The main criticisms of Klain, whether from current or former Biden staff members or those who consider themselves allies of the president, flow from a single idea: that Biden has strayed from his core brand as a pragmatic, empathetic politician who won the Democratic nomination as a moderate willing to compromise. They see Klain as the person responsible for that. His ubiquitous presence on Twitter has solidified that view, particularly for those who see it as being out of step with a 2020 campaign that deliberately tuned out cable news pundits and ‘blue checks’ on social media.

At her press conference yesterday, a reporter asked House speaker Nancy Pelosi about Joe Biden’s comment that Democrats will be able to pass “big chunks” of the Build Back Better Act.

“Well, let me just say, ‘chunks’ is an interesting word,” Pelosi replied.

She added, “I’m sure that we can agree upon something significant. Call it a chunk if you want. But, whatever you call it, we want it to be able to make a difference in transforming the workplace by honoring work, by respecting the fact that there are families that have to make decisions between home and work, and, again, protecting the planet.”

However, Pelosi emphasized that the bill will still need to be passed via reconciliation in order to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, which may make it more difficult to split it up into multiple components.

“There are big chunks of the bill that have to be contained in the bill,” Pelosi said. “But remember this. This is a reconciliation bill. So when people say let’s divide it up – nah. No, they don’t understand the process.”

Democrats attempt to revive 'chunks' of Build Back Better

Greetings, live blog readers.

Democrats are attempting to revive components of their Build Back Better Act, the $1.75tn spending package that includes massive investments in childcare, healthcare and climate initiatives.

A version of the bill passed the House, but the legislation stalled in the Senate after Joe Manchin announced his opposition last month.

Now, Manchin seems open to the idea of restarting the negotiations over the bill, telling reporters yesterday, “We’ll just be starting from scratch.”

Joe Manchin speaks to reporters after voting at the US Capitol.
Joe Manchin speaks to reporters after voting at the US Capitol. Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

Manchin’s comments came after Joe Biden voiced confidence that Democrats will be able to get some of the bill’s most significant provisions signed into law.

“I’m confident we can get pieces, big chunks of the Build Back Better law signed into law,” the president said at his press conference on Wednesday.

However, the changes that Manchin will likely demand may spark criticism among progressives in Congress, and Democrats can afford very few defections if they want to get a bill across the finish line.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.