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, Thursday, July 14, 2022 in Washington. Manchin has told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he will oppose a economic measure if it includes climate or energy provisions or boosts taxes on the rich or corporations. (Tom Williams/Pool photo via AP) ORG XMIT: WX122

  • Manchin told Schumer “unequivocally” he won’t support measures beyond prescription drugs and health care.
  • Biden’s lofty goals to address climate and social safety-net appear doomed.
  • Progressives accused Manchin of “single-handedly dooming humanity. “

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin on Thursday rejected Democrats’ proposals to combat climate change and raise taxes on the wealthy, dooming President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive major pieces of his stalled domestic agenda.

But Manchin, in an interview on West Virginia radio, pushed back strongly at suggestions that he’s blowing up talks, insisting he only wants to wait until more inflation data is out next month.

Manchin, D-W.Va., told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a meeting Thursday that “he will not support” a reconciliation bill that has provisions addressing energy and climate or raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversation.

What Manchin is saying — and denying

  • The centrist Manchin told Schumer “unequivocally,” according to the source, that he is only willing to support measures to lower prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of subsidies for the Affordable Care Act health care law.
  • Manchin, appearing on the Hoppy Kercheval radio show in West Virginia on Friday, denied that account. He said he wants to wait until August, when July inflation figures are released, to decide what can be passed without further spiking consumer prices. 
  • “I said, ‘Chuck can we just wait until the inflation figures come out in July?'” Manchin said. “He took that as ‘no’, I guess. I don’t know why they did that, I guess to try to put pressure on me. But they’ve been doing that for over a year now. It doesn’t make any sense at all. As far as I’m concerned, I want climate. I want an energy policy.”
  • But Schumer is hoping to pass legislation before the Senate leaves for recess in August – which Manchin’s timeline wouldn’t allow. The stalemate comes after concessions from Schumer on the climate package to eliminate tax credits for electric vehicles and direct pay for clean-energy developers opposed by Manchin, while lowering the price tag of energy components to $375 billion, the source said.
  • Schumer’s final offer would have retained tax credits to support clean energy, a proposal that Democrats have estimated would reduce carbon emissions by nearly 40% by 2030. 
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More:Sen. Joe Manchin cools on spending negotiations, citing fears of an ‘inflation fire’

Why it’s crushing for Biden

Biden and Democrats had lofty ambitions to transform the economy and social-safety net, and to engineer the most significant climate provisions in U.S. history. But what began last year as a $3.5 trillion spending bill – dubbed Build Back Better by the president – is now gutted almost entirely. Omitted long ago were proposals for universal pre-kindergarten, free community college, national paid family leave, extending child tax credits, affordable housing and dental and vision coverage for seniors.

After Manchin torpedoed a slimmed-down $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill last year, Schumer revived talks with the West Virginia senator in a last-ditch push to save some of the president’s agenda, particularly addressing climate, before the November midterm elections. The White House hoped to pass legislation via reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to bypass a potential Republican filibuster with a simple majority, but doing so would require all 50 Democratic senators to be on board.

The reaction

  • Manchin, citing 40-year-high inflation, said he won’t support anything “that causes more problems.” He also balked at efforts to scale back fossil fuels, characterizing it as unrealistic to shift to renewable energy in a decade. “I’m not going to be part of eliminating what this country needs to run the economic engine and the lives of human beings throughout America.”

  • The White House, which has refrained from talking publicly about the latest round of spending negotiations, declined to comment. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also declined to say whether Manchin gave the administration a heads up about his position. 

  • Progressives blasted Manchin. “It seems odd that Sen. Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity,” said John Podesta, a former senior advisor to Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress think tank. “But we can’t throw in the towel on the planet. Now it’s more important than ever that President Biden use all his authority to fiercely fight for the future.”

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More:Inflation hits another 40-year high. What does that mean for shoppers and the next Fed rate hike?

Top takeaways 

  • Once again, despite controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress, Democrats have proven unable to unify behind a progressive agenda. It has become one of the defining trends of the first years of Biden’s presidency. 
  • The outsized role of Manchin – as one of the few Democrats willing to break from party ranks – also emerged again. The moderate Democrat, who hails from one of the country’s biggest coal-producing states, has taken more than $730,000 in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry during the 2022 election cycle, by far more than any senator, according to Open Secrets.
  • Schumer and Democrats are left with only bad options. They could put forward a bill to take on prescription drug prices and extend ACA subsidies and claim a victory, but it would come at the expense of many of the priorities that progressives have demanded for years.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison

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