This bill is dying by the second.
Although confirming a historic Supreme Court candidate would be a win for the Democrats, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement throws a wrench in President Biden’s agenda to pass cornerstone bills in what could become the final months Democrats control Congress.
When progressives lobbied for Breyer to announce his retirement plans, the idea of replacing the 83-year-old justice with a younger one would give Biden an easy win as Dems can do it with limited bipartisan support.
However, the timing –– nine months before the midterms –– could be detrimental to another aspect of Biden’s agenda: Build Back Better, the President’s signature climate and social spending proposal.
In a statement, Jim Manley, a former aide to the late Senator Harry Reid (D-NV.), mentioned that the nomination process would “consume all of the oxygen on Capitol Hill in the Senate” but said it didn’t “mean Build Back Better is done.” Instead, Manley highlighted this would be another hurdle Senate Democrats would have to overcome.
As the midterms loom, Biden has revealed he would be announcing a nominee by the end of February. Then, based on statements by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic aides, the President hopes to confirm his nominee in a timeline similar to the one for Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Nothing prevents Biden from having the Build Back Better bill and the confirmation vote for his nominee before the Senate simultaneously, but it would complicate things. Once Biden unveils his nominee, the confirmation process will consume much of the Senate’s attention.
But, while they still hold the majority in both chambers of Congress, Democrats are adamant about seeing a version of Build Back Better passed, despite opposition from Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), meaning Democrats were “starting from scratch” in the negotiation process.
According to a report by The Hill, a Democratic strategist who is close to the White House revealed it was too early to determine if BBB would be impacted by the Supreme Court nomination. Instead, the strategist suggested the confirmation could provide Biden an easy win and give Democrats a cooling-off period before they return to the tense BBB negotiations.
Even if this cooling-off period effectively enables parts of the Build Back Better Act to be passed, Manley believes time may not be on the side of Democrats.
The former senate aide declared, “Time is not the friend of Build Back Better,” before acknowledging that “the longer this stretches out, the more difficult it’s going to become.”