Democratic lawmakers recognize that rising inflation is becoming a significant political issue that adds to the difficulty of reviving President BidenJoe BidenBillie Eilish meets Biden at the White House Marjorie Taylor Greene roasted for ‘gazpacho police’ remark Biden talks energy and security with Saudi King Salman MOREthe agenda.
Senate Democrats are discussing the possibility of trying to resuscitate the Build Back Better Act, or significant parts of it, as early as next month, but that timeline is now more uncertain than ever after a new report showed inflation is rising faster than expected.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday that prices rose 7.5% over the past year and 0.6% from December to January, beating expectations that annual inflation and monthly inflation would stand at 7.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
The food and energy price indexes rose at an even faster pace, by 0.9%.
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSanders calls on Democrats to bring drug pricing bill to Senate Climate will define Biden’s legacy Biden meets with utility leaders to push for spending package MORE (DW.Va.) Thursday’s latest numbers are yet another reason Democrats aren’t expected to return to negotiations on Biden’s Build Back Better program anytime soon.
“Right now, inflation should bring everyone [on] high alert,” he told reporters ahead of a vote. “The market can’t take it. You cannot continue to add fuel to the fire. You just can’t do it.
When asked to confirm whether he had informed his colleagues that he did not wish to resume negotiations on Build Back Better, he said: “I have been very clear about everything.”
Other Senate Democrats acknowledge that rising inflation is becoming a bigger political issue that does not bode well for Biden’s plan to pass another spending package that would be well over $1 trillion.
“Clearly we would like this to come down, I think the Fed needs to act,” the senator said. Mark WarnerMark Robert Warner1 dead, 4 injured in shooting near Virginia Tech Environmentalists bristle at Youngkin’s early moves The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Russian attack ‘would change the world’ MORE (D-Va.).
As for what inflation means for Build Back Better, he replied, “Nothing is easy.”
“Obviously the inflation numbers don’t make it any easier,” he added.
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBiden faces possible trucker threat Lawmakers say spending deal lives up to leaders Balance/Sustainability – Beijing pollution halved since last Olympics MORE (D-Mont.) said the possibility of dramatically reducing the size of Biden’s climate and infrastructure spending package is “still on the table” to address inflation fears.
But he also pointed out that might not be necessary if Democrats are successful in making the case that Build Back Better will solve inflation by helping middle-income Americans cut costs.
“There are things that can help reduce inflation in the BBB, childcare, housing, that sort of thing, but I think we need to look at how we can help reduce costs for families. “, did he declare.
“Anytime you have high inflation numbers, that’s a problem we have to take seriously,” he said.
Rising inflation has also fueled talk among centrist Democrats about setting aside some of the money generated from deficit-cutting tax increases instead of using it to spend on new things. new social programs.
“I think it would be a good idea to reduce the deficit,” Tester told reporters on Tuesday.
Senate Republicans see rising prices as a major issue heading into the midterm elections that will help their candidates and hurt Democrats.
“It turns out that inflation last year was not 7%. That’s seven and a half percent. In other words, if you personally haven’t gotten a pay raise of eight percent or more in the last year, then Democrat policies have given you a pay cut,” the Republican leader said. of the Senate. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn the money – Lawmakers edge closer to government funding deal Rep. Greg Pence backs his brother amid criticism from President Trump RNC: ‘Disagreement in our party is welcome,’ but GOP lawmakers on Jan. 6 are ‘going too far’ MORE (Ky.) said on the Senate floor.
In a sign that vulnerable Democrats feel compelled to respond to soaring prices, Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanOn The Money – Lawmakers edge closer to government funding deal Overnight Energy & Environment – Postal Service faces wrath over vehicle projects Vulnerable Democrats call for gas tax suspension in a context of rising prices MORE (DN.H.) and Mark KellyMark KellyOn The Money – Lawmakers edge closer to government funding deal Overnight Energy & Environment – Postal Service faces wrath over vehicle projects Vulnerable Democrats call for gas tax suspension amid backdrop price increase MORE (D-Arizona) on Thursday announced a proposal to suspend the federal gasoline tax until the end of the year. That would lower the cost of a gallon of gasoline by 18.4 cents through January.
Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoOn The Money – Lawmakers Close In On Government Funding Deal Overnight Energy & Environment – Postal Service Faces Wrath From Vehicle Projects Vulnerable Democrats Call For Gas Tax Pause In an environment of rising prices MORE (D), which also faces a tough race in Nevada, co-sponsored the legislation.
“I am committed to finding solutions that provide our families with much-needed relief at the pump and help them move forward,” she said in a statement.
Cortez Masto was peppered with questions from reporters after lunchtime Thursday about whether Build Back Better would add to inflation.
She argued that Build Back Better couldn’t be blamed for the latest numbers as they “didn’t pass” and instead pointed to “the pandemic we’re facing right now” and “the chain issues of supply”.
Asked if she sees Build Back Better as something that could fuel more inflation, she claimed ‘there are anti-inflationary measures in there’, citing the trade-off to cut some costs prescription drugs.
Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine ‘Sobering and shocking’: Senators raise red flags after Iran briefing Bipartisan senators call on Mexico to protect journalists (D-Va.) Said the latest inflation reading will put pressure on Democrats to limit any package they offer to proposals that will lower the cost of living for average Americans, such as a a proposal to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs, something Biden touted Thursday during an appearance in Culpepper, Va.
“I think it will pass in a stripped down version,” he said.
He said the legislation will likely include provisions on climate change, a scaled-down proposal to reduce prescription drug costs, funding for expanded access to child care and preschool, and funding for the development of labor.
He said the rising inflation figures “have an impact on the content of the bill”.
“It can shape what makes the final cut,” he added. “Items that really have cost-cutting ability on things that really hit people’s wallets are likely to rise to the top of the to-do list.”
That makes it nearly impossible to include a proposal to increase or eliminate the cap on state and local tax deductions, a top priority for the Senate Majority Leader. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSanders calls on Democrats to bring drug pricing bill to Senate Unionization would make Congress even more expensive and inefficient Pelosi supports banning stock trading in Congress MORE (DN.Y.) and House members from New York and New Jersey, say the Democratic senators.
Kaine said the proposal to raise the SALT ceiling “has never been my priority”.
Biden argued during a visit to Virginia’s 7th congressional district, which is represented by a vulnerable representative. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerOvernight Energy & Environment – Biden tries to overthrow Trump on power plants 23 House Democrats call on Biden to keep all climate funds in Build Back Better Pelosi says open to stock trading ban for Congress MORE (D), that its Climate and Social Spending Program “would reduce the cost to average families.”
And he insisted it “will not increase the debt”.
But claims by the White House and Democratic leaders that Build Back Better will reduce the impact of inflation do not convince Manchin, who has repeatedly warned of the impact of rising prices on families in middle class and low income in his state.
Manchin, in a statement Thursday, warned that inflation is “depleting the hard-earned wages of every American, and is causing real and severe economic pain that can no longer be ignored.”
“We all have a responsibility to do everything possible to bring down inflation and manage our debts, because the longer we or the Federal Reserve wait to act, the more economic pain will be caused,” he said.