Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia blew up the Democrats’ economic agenda for the second time in a year, dealing a fatal blow to the party’s efforts to deliver on campaign promises and enact a slimmer spending bill to fight against the climate emergency funded by tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans and big business.
The lawmaker told top Democrats on Thursday that he would not support an economic package that includes new climate change spending or tax increases to fund the legislation, two Democrats briefed on the discussions confirmed to Insider. The development was first reported by The Washington Post.
“Political headlines are meaningless to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” the doorman said. word of Manchin, Sam Runyon, in a statement. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to set political agendas aside, reassess and adapt to the economic realities facing the country to avoid taking actions that fuel the fire of inflation.”
Democrats in recent months have worked to win back Manchin’s support in a bid to push through Biden’s economic agenda before the midterms. But several early deals between the powerful moderate and his party now risk being upended by Manchin’s refusal to budge on climate spending. Those deals included a measure to cut prescription drug prices and tax some high earners to extend the life of Medicare by three years, he withdrew support for the latter measure, the sources said.
Manchin had expressed support in the past for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and transition in the United States towards greener sources of energy. Thursday night’s development appeared to stun Democrats who believed they were making progress in reaching a deal with the conservative West Virginia Democrat after a long stalemate to advance their economic ambitions.
“This is our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic and costly effects of climate change,” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon said in a statement. “We cannot go back in another decade and prevent hundreds of billions or even trillions of economic damage and undo the inevitable human toll.”
Others like the senses. Hawaii’s Brian Schatz and Oregon’s Jeff Merkeley urged the Biden administration to exercise executive authority to fight the climate. “President Biden must immediately use the full extent of his executive powers to address climate chaos, starting with declaring a climate emergency,” Merkeley wrote on Twitter.
Manchin said he remains open to the Democrats’ proposed measure that would lower prescription drug prices and extend for two years the Affordable Care Act’s enhanced grants that would expire at the end of the year, said Democratic sources. Such a bill would likely encompass only a small fraction of the initial spending envisioned by Democrats and could make progressives reluctant to accept the deal.
Democrats aim to push through the measure using the complex reconciliation process, a maneuver that allows Democrats to circumvent a Republican filibuster and approve bills by a simple majority.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had been meeting with Manchin privately since late April in a bid to iron out disagreements and strike a deal with holdouts.
Now Democrats are faced with the choice of accepting the meager Manchin deal or abandoning it altogether after a year of chaotic negotiations that have shrunk the size and scope of the House-approved Build Back Better bill.
Their proposals to provide monthly cash payments to parents, establish universal and affordable child care, expand health insurance to cover dental, vision and hearing care, and implement places a paid vacation program all failed last year.