Capital Clicks

Axne: Build Back Better is ‘alive and well’ as Senate prioritizes voting rights

By: - January 5, 2022 3:33 pm

Rep. Cindy Axne speaks to reporters on Jan 5, 2022. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The U.S. Senate has tabled discussion of President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending proposal, but Rep. Cindy Axne said Wednesday the bill was still “alive and well” in D.C.

“It’s not stalled,” she said, “It’s a little bit behind because they’re heavily working on voting rights issues, and that’s the key priority right now.”

Democrats hoped to pass the “Build Back Better” Act in 2021. The sweeping legislation would provide $1.75 trillion over the next decade for expanded child care and health programs, climate initiatives and other Democratic priorities. The U.S. House passed the bill in November. Axne, a Democrat, was the only Iowa representative to vote in favor.

But negotiations stalled in the Senate, as a few Democratic holdouts balked at the price tag and objected to some of the programs, like the child tax credit. Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the main Democratic opponent to the current proposal, told reporters this week that he has not resumed negotiations in the new year. Other Senate Democrats called it a “cooling off” period.

In the meantime, Democrats have turned their attention to passing voting rights legislation ahead of the 2022 midterms.

“Unless we get the voting rights bills passed, we’re going to see gerrymandering and voting suppression tactics influence this next election,” Axne said Wednesday at an event in Clive.

Democratic leaders have not specified which voting rights legislation they will push forward. But moderates like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona may oppose that process, too: A voting rights bill would likely need to pass the Senate along party lines, requiring Democrats to work around a 60-vote filibuster rule.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.