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Manchin balks at climate and tax pieces of Biden agenda bill but backs health care provisions


Sen. Joe Manchin within the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his staff told Democratic leadership on Thursday that he is not willing to support major climate and tax provisions in a sweeping Biden agenda bill, in line with a Democrat briefed on the conversations.

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Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his staff told Democratic leadership on Thursday that he is not willing to support major climate and tax provisions in a sweeping Biden agenda bill, in line with a Democrat briefed on the conversations.

As a substitute, Manchin, a key centrist who holds the swing vote within the 50-50 Senate, said he’s willing to back only a filibuster-proof economic bill with drug pricing and a two-year extension of funding under the Reasonably priced Care Act, the source said.

Manchin’s move upends lengthy negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., almost definitely forcing the party to scrap climate change policies and recent taxes and delivering a serious blow to a few of President Joe Biden’s priorities heading into an already difficult midterm election landscape for Democrats this fall.

Manchin “was explicit that he won’t support a bill in August” with energy or climate provisions or one “closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthiest” and enormous corporations, “despite his support for those specific things throughout your entire negotiation,” said the Democrat briefed concerning the discussions.

Democrats hope to pass a bill before September to stop major insurance premium hikes under the Reasonably priced Care Act, which may very well be difficult to avert in the event that they don’t act quickly.

“Political headlines are of no value to the hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon told NBC News in an announcement. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to place political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

A Democratic aide aware of the talks said Manchin conveyed to Democratic leadership that he could support a package that features climate and tax provisions so long as they’re paid for — or that he would just desire a bill on prescribed drugs and ACA money.

The negotiations have left party leaders deeply frustrated. The source who was briefed on the talks called it a reversal for Manchin after he backed a provision last week to boost some taxes on high earners to increase the solvency of Medicare.

“Manchin has now backed off of his support for this provision’s inclusion within the bill,” said the source, who requested anonymity to candidly discuss sensitive negotiations between Manchin and Schumer.

“Schumer and his staff have presented legislative text to Sen. Manchin and his staff for months,” the source added, including “major concessions and a willingness to incorporate things that weren’t in previous bills.”

With no hope of winning Republican support for the package, Manchin’s position leaves Democratic leaders with a grueling alternative: They’ll either drop the package entirely or pass the provisions he supports, which congressional Democrats overwhelmingly support.

“We all know what we will pass is largely the drug pricing — on Medicare. We all know that one. Is there any more we will do? I do not know. But I’m very, very cautious,” Manchin told reporters this week.

Democrats had insisted that funding to assist combat climate change, a high priority for a lot of, can be paid for.

“If we make an actual commitment on the climate front and we pay for it by making big corporations pay their justifiable share in taxes, that is going to assist us,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

The likely failure of fresh energy funding is a serious setback in efforts to mitigate climate change, which scientists have warned would require aggressive motion to maneuver away from fossil fuels to stave off disastrous impacts. The House-passed Construct Back Higher Act approved $555 billion to combat climate change, but Manchin rejected the bill and slashed the proposed funding to $300 billion in recent negotiations. Now, Congress may not pass any climate funding this 12 months.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expressed his dismay at Manchin’s position.

“I’m not going to sugar coat my disappointment here, especially since nearly all issues within the climate and energy space had been resolved,” he said in an announcement. “That is our last likelihood to stop essentially the most catastrophic — and dear — effects of climate change. We won’t come back in one other decade and forestall a whole bunch of billions — if not trillions — in economic damage and undo the inevitable human toll.”

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Manchin forced Democrats to sharply pare back the laws after he got here out against the larger version in December, leaving the party one vote short within the Senate. He had suggested a smaller bill with energy and climate funding, taxes and prescription drug prices. Now, those parameters have again shifted.

But Manchin still appears committed to the drug pricing provisions. He told NBC News on Tuesday that the policies to lower prescription drug costs are “going be an amazing help.”

“Drug pricing is essentially the most — that is the one thing that everybody seems to agree on. Let Medicare negotiate, reduce the costs,” he said.

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