Rep. Cindy Axne speaks to reporters on Jan 5, 2022.

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.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.


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