- Sen. Manchin and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer came to a compromise on Biden's Build Back Better agenda.
- The plan has provisions for increased healthcare access, as well as climate and energy programs.
- Former President Barack Obama offered a strong show of support for the deal on Twitter this week.
Former President Barack Obama gave a strong show of support for the direction Democrats are heading in this week.
"I'm grateful to President Biden and those in Congress – Democrat or Republican – who are working to deliver for the American people," he said on Twitter on Thursday. "Progress doesn't always happen all at once, but it does happen – and this is what it looks like."
Obama referenced two big developments: passage in the Senate of the bipartisan CHIPS bill intended to boost the US semiconductor industry, and the unexpected revival of Biden's Build Back Better agenda. The previous version of the latter was dead in the water earlier this year, as it was unable to get the threshold-clearing support of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
Until now, that is.
Manchin struck a surprise deal to advance a leaner version of Biden's economic agenda on Wednesday, an agreement that includes an extension of Obamacare subsidies, Medicare prescription drug negotiations, climate programs, and some tax reforms.
The compromise seemed to take other Democratic senators by surprise this week, but the reaction was positive — and the sentiment extended to the 44th president.
"This has been a big week for the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress," Obama said. "First, Congress is on track to pass a bipartisan bill that will lower the cost of everything from cars to consumer goods, and make us less dependent on foreign semiconductors."
In a thread, he also threw his support behind Democrats' announcement this week of a plan to lower prescription drug costs amid high inflation.
Inflation seems to be on Democrats' minds as they unveil their agenda this week, and as they hurtle toward a daunting midterm season.
"Rather than risking more inflation with trillions in new spending, this bill will cut the inflation taxes Americans are paying, lower the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, and ensure our country invests in the energy security and climate change solutions we need to remain a global superpower through innovation rather than elimination," Manchin said about the new Build Back Better.
Some critics such as Senator Bernie Sanders, however, noted that the Medicare prescription drug plan doesn't cover all drugs, and doesn't substantially take effect until 2026. The new Build Back Better also jettisoned many keystone parts of the more ambitious original plan: affordable childcare, universal pre-K, and the return of a monthly check program for parents.
But Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to extend financial assistance for people to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for three years, include $370 billion for climate and energy programs, and allocate $300 billion to reduce the federal deficit.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the deal on Twitter. He had previously threatened to stall the recently passed semiconductor legislation if a version of Build Back Better eventually went through.