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Joe Manchin Says He Wasn’t Trying To Trick Republicans

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WASHINGTON ― Republicans are furious at Senator Joe Manchin.

The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday announced a surprise take care of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to revive much of President Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda.

“It was obviously a double-cross by Joe Manchin,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on Fox News Wednesday evening. “Just two weeks ago, he said he wasn’t going to support a bill like this.”

A lot for the love affair between Manchin and Republicans, who ceaselessly praised him for refusing to support various high-profile Democratic proposals. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has even mused about Manchin joining the Grand Old Party.

Republicans are especially upset because in June, McConnell vowed Republicans would block Senate passage of an unrelated bill subsidizing the U.S. semiconductor computer chip industry if Democrats tried to revive their agenda through the Senate’s “budget reconciliation” process.

Two weeks ago, after the newest bad inflation reading, Manchin gave his colleagues the impression he wouldn’t support such a bill. So when the Senate passed the chips bill Wednesday, with 17 Republicans voting yes, it had gave the impression of the reconciliation bill was dead. But then, hours later, Manchin announced it was back with a recent name: The Inflation Reduction Act.

Manchin said Thursday that he wasn’t attempting to pull one over on Republicans. Somewhat, he and Schumer had actually been negotiating all along and were aiming to complete the bill before the Senate goes on recess August sixth.

“There was no malice intended in any way,” Manchin told reporters Thursday. “We had a bill that was almost accomplished, we were in a position to get it accomplished by Wednesday, so due to Wednesday, which means we are able to go into reconciliation by next Wednesday and be done before we leave on the sixth.”

The timeline may be optimistic, because Democrats still need the Senate parliamentarian to rule that the bill’s various provisions are eligible for reconciliation, which allows bills to pass the Senate with just 50 votes as a substitute of 60, meaning Democrats can bypass Republicans. It’s possible a final vote could slip to the weekend.

The Inflation Reduction Act is less ambitious than the Construct Back Higher bill it’s replacing, but still a substantive piece of laws. Amongst other things it will subsidize green energy to the tune of greater than $300 billion, allow Medicare to barter lower prescription drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 per yr, and reduce the federal budget deficit by greater than $300 billion thanks partly to increased IRS enforcement, in accordance with a summary from Manchin’s office.

Even when Manchin and Schumer deliberately waited to make their announcement until after the chips bill had passed, it wouldn’t be much of a double-cross if Manchin had not made any commitment to Republicans to not support a Democratic bill ― which he hadn’t.

Still, Republicans are acting like they got stabbed within the back, and after Manchin’s announcement, leaders within the House began urging members to vote against the Senate-passed chips bill. A source told HuffPost earlier this week that as many as 30 Republicans would support the measure.

“I just thought it was bad faith,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

On Wednesday evening, Republicans voted against a bill to help veterans harmed by burn pits in foreign wars, though they’d supported it before in a procedural vote. Ostensibly, Republicans objected to the amendment process for the bill, but several Democrats have said it’s retaliation.

“Republicans now are mainly holding the veterans hostage because they’re mad,” Manchin said. “That is flawed.”

Manchin also lamented that last yr, progressive Democrats briefly refused to support a bipartisan infrastructure bill because they wanted assurances Congress would first pass Construct Back Higher. He said the Infrastructure Reduction Act should be bipartisan.

“We’ve turn into so dysfunctional,” Manchin said. “My Republicans friends, these are all so good people, and so they’re friends of mine, but they get wrapped up in considering ‘Well, we’ve got to be against something because it would make the opposite side look good.’”

Cotton, for his part, was not persuaded by Manchin’s argument that he’s just attempting to get a bill done by recess.

“I’m sure Joe’s story will change,” Cotton told HuffPost. “Because it at all times does.”

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