Manchin Talks Up Surprise Budget Deal as Democrats Aim to Pass It This Week

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US Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) made the rounds of the Sunday news shows this morning to talk up Democrats’ surprise deal on funding climate change projects, cutting healthcare costs and slashing the federal budget.

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Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled the deal Wednesday after negotiating on and off behind the scenes for months.

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They aim to get it across the finish line before lawmakers head home for their scheduled August recess at the end of this week despite Republican objections and questions about how much support they will have among Democrats in the Senate.

Manchin, who has been criticized by members of his own caucus for resisting President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better initiative, said he never backed away from a deal but negotiated the current version in secret because he wasn’t sure it could get done.

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The centrist Democrat’s support has been considered crucial to getting Biden’s social and climate change agenda passed amid a highly partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill. In the end, he was able to strike an agreement on a smaller bill that pushes for greater produciton of fossil fuel energy alongside green energy investments and cuts the deficit.

“It’s not a Democrat bill. It’s not a Republican bill. It’s definitely not a green bill. This is a red, white and blue bill. And it’s great for America,” Manchin said on CNN.

One wild card is Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), who has not publicly committed to voting for the bill and has opposed some of its proposals in the past, namely the closing of the carried interest tax loophole, which affects Wall Street money managers.

Democrats need all 50 Senators to vote for the bill in the evenly divided Senate for Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the tie-breaking 51st vote.

The package would raise roughly $739 billionincluding a 15% minimum tax on companies that make more than $1 billion a year, increased Internal Revenue Service tax enforcement, and estimated savings from letting Medicare negotiate some prescription drug prices.

The plan would invest $369 billion into energy and climate measures and extend healthcare subsidies.

Manchin told CNN that Sinema helped form “quite a bit” of the legislation through prior negotiations and was “very instrumental in letting Medicare go ahead and negotiate for lower drug prices” [and] save $288 billion.”

“I agree with her 100% we’re not going to raise taxes, and we don’t,” he said. “When she looks at the bill and sees the whole spectrum of what we’re doing and all of the energy we’re bringing in, all of the reduction of prices and fighting inflation by bringing prices down, by having more energy, hopefully, she will be positive about it. But she will make her decision. And I respect that.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) told CNN that “it really looks to me like Joe Manchin has been taken to the cleaners,” saying the bill would slow growth, exacerbate the recession, and slow development of the next wave of drugs. “So this is a disaster. This is going to make our recession worse. It’s going to make inflation worse.”

Manchin told ABC’s This Week that “We’re not spending money, we’re investing.”

The West Virginia lawmaker pushed back at a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School budget model that said the bill could slightly raise inflation over the next year and a half, pointing out that it cuts the deficit by $300 billion while encouraging fossil fuel production and clean energy investments to lower the costs of fuel for Americans and bringing manufacturing, such as batteries, back to the US

When asked on CBS ‘ Face the Nation about Republicans who are upset that he negotiated the bill behind the scenes, Manchin said: “I never told anybody that I wasn’t going to do something. If I had a chance to fix the energy policy of the United States of America, and I didn’t do it, shame on me.”

Write to Janet H. Cho at [email protected]


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