Clearly in the hope of winning a legislative victory ahead of the midterm elections, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been engaged in negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on a substantially trimmed-down version of President Joe Biden’s stalled Build Back Better spending agenda.
Yet Manchin, who killed Biden’s $2+ trillion BBB agenda in December, has once again dashed his party’s hopes by withdrawing his support for virtually anything other than a narrow package dealing solely with prescription drug costs and other healthcare-related issues, Fox News reported.
Manchin refuses to make inflation worse with more unnecessary spending
The relatively moderate West Virginia Democrat made it known Thursday that he would not support provisions in a negotiated budget reconciliation package that would increase taxes on small businesses and the wealthy or anything related to climate change subsidies and domestic energy production.
That withdrawal of Manchin’s support all but completely ends Schumer’s plan to try and use the budget reconciliation process — which allows for certain bills to bypass the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold and be cleared with a simple majority — to ram through a highly partisan spending package without any Republican support.
In a statement to Fox News, Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon said, “Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 percent.”
“Senator 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,” he added.
That was remarkably similar to a statement the senator had released Wednesday in response to the Consumer Price Index Report showing inflation in June had increased by 9.1 percent over the same time last year.
“For more than a year, leaders in Washington have ignored the serious concerns raised by myself and others about the rising cost of inflation. While Washington seems to now understand this reality, it is time for us to work together to get unnecessary spending under control, produce more energy at home and take more active and serious steps to address this record inflation that now poses a clear and present danger to our economy,” Manchin said.
He added, “No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire.”
Schumer’s plan has failed again
The Washington Post reported Saturday that while some Democrats “reacted with rage” to the perceived slight of their broad partisan spending agenda by Manchin, others were not surprised and, in fact, viewed Manchin’s move as predictable in light of his prior public statements and refusal to back certain Democratic policies — despite what may have been said to the contrary during negotiations behind closed doors.
Manchin and Schumer have reportedly been quietly negotiating for the past few months on a scaled-down version of Biden’s BBB agenda, but while Schumer routinely expressed optimism that a deal was close at hand, Manchin just as frequently expressed caution and concern with regard to the inevitable impact any additional spending right now would have on inflation.
Now Schumer’s Democrats must decide if they will take what Manchin has offered them right now — a narrow package dealing only with extending Obamacare subsidies and reducing prescription drug costs — or hold out for a few more months in hopes that inflation will subside enough for Manchin to feel comfortable voting in support of tax hikes and climate change subsidies.