Democrats should delay President Joe Biden’s signature economic package until later this summer, Sen. Joe Manchin said Friday, a claim that would jeopardize the party’s environment and tax goals and postpone a congressional showdown over the plan until after the November election.
A leading West Virginia Democrat said on a statewide radio show that if party leaders plan to vote on the still-evolving measure this month, they should include provisions to lower drug prices, extend soon-to-expire federal health care subsidies and cut federal health care. shortage
That would mean dropping other top goals the party has pursued under Biden. This includes shifting from fossil fuels to clean energy sources and paying for its priority through taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. Party leaders hope to achieve those initiatives in time to flash them in front of voters before an election in which Republicans could win control of Congress.
A day after Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he could not now support a bill that would include other party goals such as fighting climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, a Democrat briefed on the discussion said. The two lawmakers have been negotiating for months a package that is expected to reach about $1 trillion over 10 years, with about half used to reduce the federal deficit.
Manchin said Democrats should wait until inflation figures are available in July, which will happen in August. He also wants lawmakers to assess the Federal Reserve’s next moves on interest rates as it struggles to control rising prices to avoid a recession.
“Let’s wait until it comes out so we know we’re going down a path that won’t be inflammatory to add more to inflation,” Manchin said on “Talkline,” a West Virginia talk radio show hosted by Hoppy Kercheval.
The support of Manchin, one of his party’s most conservative members of Congress, could make or break any measure Democrats have in the evenly divided Senate. Although he has expressed concern for months about pushing ahead with a measure that could exacerbate inflation, his latest claims the government said consumer spending rose 9.1% annually last month, the biggest increase since 1981.
Democrats want to reach agreement on a package and push it through Congress before lawmakers begin their August recess. The measure has faced some unanimous opposition from Republicans.
Delaying action until after the recess would leave Democrats facing a dangerously ticking clock. The special budget authority expires Oct. 1 with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to push the legislation through the 50-50 Senate over tough GOP opposition.
This would create a risk that any democratic absences due to COVID-19 or any other reason would leave them short of the required votes. It would also push congressional action until weeks before the November election, when a vote could quickly turn into a damaging campaign attack ad.