The Build Back Better reconciliation bill is dead. There is no doubt whatever about that. But like the ghost of a deceased business partner, the Build Back Better agenda may visit us again soon. And the damage from the second incarnation is potentially far worse than the original.
For those who doubt the death of the Build Back Better bill, just look at vitriol West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has had to endure from the far-left wing of the Democratic Party since he announced he couldn’t support the legislation.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Manchin “betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people.” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar said Manchin “couldn’t be trusted” and that his “excuses” were “complete bulls***.” Not to be outdone, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez falsely claimed her district had more people in it than West Virginia and said it was time to “take the kid gloves off."
This is not a group of people that is willing to forgive and forget and let Manchin write a new Build Back Better bill with the White House. This is a group of people that has been encouraging activists to harass Manchin and his family at every turn. Manchin realized the only way to make the harassment stop was to pull the plug on the whole enterprise. Manchin knows that if he comes back to the negotiating table, the harassment will begin again, and it won't stop till the far-left wing of the Democratic Party gets what it wants.
None of the means that the Left has given up on enacting Build Back Better policies. It just means the target of their harassment has changed. Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal previewed this new strategy on Monday, telling reporters on a conference call, “It is abundantly clear that we cannot trust what Sen. Manchin says. I think, at this point, we should not wait for that legislative path for the president to take action. We now call on the president to keep his commitment to us that we would Build Back Better.”
In other words, the Left wants President Biden to do by executive fiat what he could not get passed by Congress. Jayapal did not outline exactly what parts of Build Back Better she wants Biden to do administratively, but far-left activists have been circulating lists of creative uses of executive power long before Biden was sworn into office.
Where the Build Back Better reconciliation bill was never able to get an immigration amnesty past the Senate parliamentarian, many open borders activists want Biden to grant what is known as Temporary Protected Status to migrants already in the U.S. This would have to be done on a country by country basis, but once granted, migrants would be able to get work permits and would be safe from deportation.
On health care, an obscure section of the Social Security Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to grant Medicare eligibility to any individual who has been subject to an “environmental exposure” — which is only loosely defined by the statute. Some on the Left think Biden can make big steps to single-payer health care by liberally granting Medicare eligibility.
On education, it is not disputed that the Department of Education can forgive loan debt. Some on the Left want Biden to use this provision to forgive college loan debt on a rolling basis, functionally making college free.
These all may sound like outlandish ideas, but remember that President Obama publicly said more than 20 times that he had no power to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants ... right up until he did exactly that when he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program during his 2012 reelection campaign.
A desperate Biden with no legislative wins to speak of may well bow to pressure from the Left, as Obama did, to enact some of these long sought liberal goals. And this time, there wouldn't be anything Manchin could do to stop him.