President Joe Biden appears determined to return to the negotiating table with Sen. Joe Manchin, the holdout Democrat who effectively tanked the party’s signature $2 trillion domestic policy initiative with his own jarring year-end announcement.

But Republicans are voicing greater confidence now that they can beat back much of what they don’t like in the package. “As we ended the year, it looks to me like they couldn’t swallow the spinach,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said Wednesday of the Democrats.
Biden, responding to reporters’ questions Tuesday at the White House, joked that he holds no grudges against the conservative West Virginia senator whose rejection of the social services and climate change bill stunned Washington just days ago.

Instead, the president spoke passionately about the families who would benefit from the Democrats’ ambitious, if now highly uncertain, plan to pour billions of dollars into child care, health care and other services.

“Senator Manchin and I are going to get something done,” Biden said.

The president’s off-the-cuff remarks constitute his first public statement as Democrats struggle to pick up the pieces from Manchin’s announcement over the weekend that he would not support the bill, as is. Manchin essentially crushed Biden’s sweeping policy measure in the 50-50 Senate, siding with all Republicans who oppose the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also struck a determined tone later Tuesday, telling Senate Democrats on 90-minute video call to expect a vote in January on the package as they push toward a deal.

Schumer acknowledged the frustration among Democrats but he told senators the party was “not giving up” on the proposal, according to a Democrat on the private call who provided details on the condition of anonymity.

But the Democrats face serious questions over whether the $2 trillion initiative can be refashioned to win his crucial vote or the party will be saddled with a devastating defeat.

Manchin and his party are so far apart, his relationships so bruised after months of failed talks, it’s unclear how they even get back to the negotiating table, let alone revive the more than 2,100-page social services and climate change bill.

All of that is encouraging to McConnell.

“Now, I know Schumer said last night on a call he’s not giving up,” the Kentucky Republican told the Hugh Hewitt Show. “I don’t expect him to do, but the worst of BBB, it appears to me, is dead.” He used the shorthand for the Build Back Better plan.

Biden spoke forcefully of the economi

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