How We Doing On 'Build Back Better?' Better, Seems Like!
White House video screenshot

Some potentially promising news on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who devoted her "A" block last night to the news that Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) had for the first time met yesterday with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), the chair of the Progressive Caucus, to talk about where they are on the climate 'n' social safety net bill that contains most of Joe Biden's domestic policy agenda. It wasn't quite white smoke coming from the Vatican, but as Maddow put it, it seems like progress that the two of them were in the same room talking to each other, for a good two hours.

Maddow also noted that Manchin sat down with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) yesterday, and that after that meeting, a "notably chipper" Manchin smiled for photos with Sanders, a noticeable change following Manchin getting a bit snippy at Sanders over the weekend, when Bernie published an op-ed arguing that Build Back Better would be hugely helpful to West Virginians. Yes, even if the most Manchin would say yesterday was "We're talking." When the two got in their cars, Manchin told Sanders, "Never give up, Bernie," which is nice and mysterious.

Still, Maddow thinks those meetings, and the news that Manchin also took a phone call from Joe Biden yesterday, seem like a positive step. We think we're going to agree with Rachel Maddow, just this once.

Here's the video of Maddow's interview with Jayapal; not surprisingly, Jayapal doesn't spill any beans on what exactly she and Manchin discussed, because negotiations. But she said she's confident Manchin wants a bill to pass, and that there will in fact be a Build Back Better bill for Biden to sign.

Jayapal mentioned, yet again, that getting legislation negotiated can be a "messy" and time-consuming process, but emphasized her belief that Build Back Better and the bipartisan infrastructure bill will ultimately be passed — so be patient, please. When Maddow noted that nothing's going to get passed without the votes of Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), Jayapal agreed Manchin could sink Build Back Better if he wanted, but the fact that he's meeting and talking means he's not out to just kill Biden's agenda, so that's encouraging as well.

But, it may take a little bit of time. It may look opaque on the outside. And, it may be frustrating because, you know, I don`t think everybody`s going to get everything they want. And I think that is true. That is the reality.

Maddow wondered, though, about that "nobody will get everything" bit. Does Manchin seem to think that, since he has the ability to get nothing done at all, he'll get everything he wants? Jayapal wouldn't speculate on that one, but said that even if parts of the original proposal don't get passed in this reconciliation bill, Biden and progressives would continue to fight for them:

One of the things that the president`s said, he said it in Connecticut, he said it to me today, we are going to fight for everything. We might not just get everything in this particular moment. But we aren`t giving up on any of this, for the longer term.

Today, Biden met with Sinema at the White House (arriving back on Capitol Hill, she told CNN's Lauren Fox simply that the meeting had been "good"). Also today, Biden, VP Kamala Harris, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will all meet with House progressives, and later with centrists from both the House and Senate, to keep working on what the reconciliation bill will include.

The excitement continues, as does speculation about what will stay in the bill. Manchin has continued to insist he cannot abide a key provision on climate, namely the plan to move utilities toward serious reductions in carbon emissions. Manchin has repeatedly (and falsely!) claimed there's no need to spend $150 billion on rewarding utilities that meet carbon goals (and fining those that fall short), because, he claims, utilities are already transitioning to wind and solar.

As energy and climate maven David Roberts points out, that's simply not true. Biden's goal is to get all electrical generation to net zero carbon emissions by 2035. But at the current rate of renewable energy adoption, our power infrastructure will only reduce carbon emissions by 17 to 25 percent, and that's not enough. It's nice when market forces nudge industry in the right direction, but we don't have the luxury of waiting for it to happen, as we noted when Manchin was spouting that nonsense over a month ago.

Stay mad about this, call your congresspeople, especially if you live in West Virginia, and remember that just the reduction in pollution-caused illnesses will pay for the costs of getting rid of fossil fuels.

[NBC News / CNBC / Maddow Transcript / Vox]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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