Senator Joe Manchin pushed back on reports that he wanted to exclude tax increases and climate provisions from a scaled-back version of Democrats’ Build Back Better legislation.
The West Virginia Democrat spoke to West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval to discuss negotations mid numerous reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post that he had scuttled another Democratic attempt to resurrect elements of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.
The Post had reported that Mr Manchin had reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he would not support including provisions to combat climate change or raising taxes on wealthy Americans or corporations.
But Mr Manchin said that he wanted to wait until he and Mr Schumer saw the numbers for inflation for July and Federal Reserve interest rate so as not to exacerbate the effects of rising gas and food prices on Americans.
“Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a hardship to them”, he said.
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On Wednesday, the Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that inflation rose 9.1 per cent in the past twelve-months, the highest since November 1981.
“I can’t make that decision basically on taxes of any type and also on the energy and climate because it takes the taxes to pay for the investment in the clean technology that I’m in favor of”, he said.
Mr Manchin–who as the most conservative member of Democrats’ 50-seat majority holds immense influence–said he and Mr Schumer have had positive discussions.
But Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico criticised Mr Manchin, who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“We have an opportunity to address the climate crisis right now. Senator Manchin’s refusal to act is infuriating”, he tweeted. “It makes me question why he’s Chair of ENR.”https://d-27124667863519580840.ampproject.net/2206221455000/frame.html
House and Senate Democrats have been working behind the scenes to engineer legislation that would have provided for some new climate programs and tax increases targeting the highest income-earners in the US – a longstanding priority for Mr Biden – as well as renewed subsidies for health insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act and a change to a 2004 law which prohibits Medicare from negotiating the cost of prescription drugs.
The proposal would have left behind many of the provisions championed by Mr Biden and progressive Democrats as part of the Build Back Better agenda Mr Biden campaigned on in 2020. Mr Manchin’s support is needed to pass any legislation under Senate rules which allow certain spending bills to pass with just 51 votes, which is the Democratic Party’s majority in the Senate.
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But according to multiple reports, Mr Manchin told Democratic leaders he will only support a limited spending package which will extend the Affordable Care Act subsidies and lower seniors’ prescription drug prices. He said he would withhold his vote for any bill that contains spending meant to address climate change or a tax increase targeting the wealthy or corporations.
“Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire,” said Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon. He added that “political headlines” have “no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 per cent”.