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Sen. Joe Manchin ditches Democrats’ climate spending, tax hike agenda

Democrats are in a tight spot again after Sen. Joe Manchin withdrew support for any climate or energy spending or tax hikes, as inflation grew at a historic rate in July

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Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., are pictured at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., pay their respects as the flag-draped casket bearing the remains of Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, lies in honor in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, July 14, 2022, in Washington. Manchin has told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he will oppose an economic measure if it includes climate or energy provisions or boosts taxes on the rich or corporations.

Tom Williams, pool via Associated Press

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has become a barrier to the Biden administration’s economic agenda by saying that he will not support a budget reconciliation bill unless it lowers drug prescription prices and extends subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, according to CBS News.

He told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that he will not be supporting any bill that contains climate, energy or tax provisions and hopes for a $200 billion deficit reduction as a part of the package going forward, CBS reported.

Per The Hill, Manchin is going back on a promise he made to Schumer last week to close a tax loophole. In May, Manchin was “earnestly engaged” in working on a stripped-down version of the “Build Back Better” bill after withdrawing support in December 2020.

In an interview with “Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval,” Manchin revealed the reason why he is dragging his feet, per Bloomberg.

“I said, ‘Chuck, can we just wait until the inflation figures come out in July?’” Manchin said on the West Virginia radio show. “He took that as no, I guess.”

The Consumer Price Index report, released on Wednesday, showed that the cost of goods and services rose 9.1% in June, the highest level since 1981, as Art Raymond reported for the Deseret News.

“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon told NBC News.

“Sen. 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.”

Per Axios, Democrats have been skeptical of the West Virginia senator reaching an agreement and cannot proceed without his support in the divided Senate. They will now be forced to make a decision: keep pressure on Manchin or proceed with a much slimmer package sans the climate and corporation tax agenda.

President Joe Biden on Friday said that climate action is “more urgent than ever,” in a statement released by the White House.

“If the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment,” he said. “My actions will create jobs, improve our energy security, bolster domestic manufacturing and supply chains, protect us from oil and gas price hikes in the future, and address climate change.”

If the Democrats proceed with a package addressing health care, it could spare 13 million people from high insurance rates in January because of an expiring assistance program, per The Washington Post. Manchin endorses a two-year extension for these subsidies that cover premiums for those who are lower income, allowing some households to pay as low as $10 a month.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat my disappointment here, especially since nearly all issues in the climate and energy space had been resolved,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, per The New York Times.

“This is our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic — and costly — effects of climate change,” he said in a statement. “We can’t come back in another decade and forestall hundreds of billions — if not trillions — in economic damage and undo the inevitable human toll.”