Montana's U.S. senators respond after blow to Build Back Better bill

Dec 21, 2021

NBC Montana

Monday, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) said, “Christmas came early for Montana families.”

He was talking about the Build Back Better Bill, President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion spending measure aimed at funding health care, clean energy and more.

The bill passed the House last month but now faces a tough battle in the Senate and its biggest roadblock yet.

“I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) in an interview with Fox News Sunday. “I just can't. I've tried everything humanly possible. I can't get there.”

Sunday, Manchin joined every Senate Republican in opposing the bill, essentially sinking the legislation in an evenly split Senate.

The bill encompasses almost every Democratic priority, like Medicare expansion, half a trillion dollars to fight climate change, over $100 billion to fund free preschool, extending the child tax credit and much more.

“Montana families have a lot to lose if Congress does not move forward with Build Back Better,” said Jackie Semmens, a policy analyst with the Montana Budget and Policy Center.

She says 209,000 children, 90% of Montana kids, benefit from the Child Tax Credit. If the bill is passed, she says the credit extension is projected to reduce childhood poverty by 20%.

“Dec. 15 was the last monthly child tax credit payment unless it is reauthorized,” Semmens said. “With costs rising around the world, now is when families need the child tax credit, and pulling the rug out for families and cutting their benefit will harm 209,000 kids in Montana.”

When asked if he has a response to those who say there are beneficial policies in the bill, Daines said, “There's a right way to move legislation through the United States Congress, and that's moving it through committees, moving it through in a bipartisan way. This has been a purely partisan push.”

A spokesperson for Montana's other U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, said in a statement:

“Montanans expect their elected officials to deliver real results for our state, and Senator Tester is going to keep working with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to cut taxes for working families, create good-paying jobs, and lower the cost of housing, childcare, and prescription drugs for Montanans.”

A vote on this bill is expected once the Senate reconvenes in the new year.

Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.