WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden appeared to bow Friday to what Sen. Joe Manchin wants to keep the economy low, telling Democrats to rush an election-year resolution through Congress so families can “sleep easy” and enjoy health care. the required amount.
Biden’s comments came hours after Manchin, a West Virginian who is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, said that if party leaders want to act before next month’s recess, it should be limited to things like lowering drug prices, expanding public assistance. buying health insurance and reducing the federal deficit.
“Families across the country will sleep easier if Congress does this,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “The Senate needs to move forward, pass it before the August recess, and get it to my desk for my signature.”
Biden’s comments reflect a growing sentiment among Democrats that after months of negotiations with Manchin that only made the president’s future more tenuous, it was time to declare victory.
That would mean delaying action on climate change mitigation and raising taxes on high-income earners and big companies, areas that Democrats have long sought in the economy. This could represent a reversal of those goals, which are among the party’s top priorities and set the stage for the conference until the end of November’s elections.
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Even so, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, helping consumers afford health care and reducing federal red ink would allow Democrats to show their agenda in front of voters.
Manchin, whose vote is needed for Democrats to win a 50-50 House majority, said Friday that if party leaders want to take action to increase global warming and raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, they should wait until later. this summer. He argued that it would allow time to see what would happen to inflation and interest rates this month.
“Let’s wait until it comes out so we know we’re on a path that won’t be inflationary,” Manchin said on “Talkline,” a West Virginia radio show hosted by Hoppy Kercheval.
After months of citing fears of inflation as a reason for Biden’s spending cuts, Mr. Manchin raised concerns this week after the administration reported that annual inflation had reached 9.1 percent in June, the highest increase in 41 years. for rates is a big concern for voters as the November elections near where Republicans can control the House and Senate.
In his speech, Mr. Biden said that action on climate and clean energy “remains more urgent than ever” but he agreed to accept the delay of the meeting.
“If the Legislature does not move to address the climate crisis and strengthen our clean energy industry, I will take strong action to make it happen this time,” he said. He added, “I will not back down: the opportunity to create a job and create a strong future is too important to pass up.”
Biden’s options for action or legislation at the Environmental Protection Agency could include denying permits to drill for oil and gas on land and water, expanding pollution permits from coal-fired plants and banning natural gas pipelines and other oil projects.
Biden’s comments reflect the latest pushback he and Democratic congressional leaders have made since pushing for ambitious goals early last year that would have cost $3.5 trillion or more.
These priorities would also include free preschool, affordable child care, paid family leave and more. He was later affected by the minority of Democrats in Congress and the political and economic changes that have seen voters complain about inflation and the economy.
Any proposed plan faces opposition from Republicans, who argue that the increase in spending and taxes would lead to higher inflation.
Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday that he would not support a bill that would include party goals such as tackling climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, according to a Democrat briefed on the discussion.
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The two lawmakers have been negotiating for months on a package that is expected to reach about $1 trillion over 10 years, and about half of it is used to reduce the federal deficit. Manchin blasted a $2 trillion economic and financial initiative last December after it passed the House, which brought back Biden.
The president’s goals have included limiting the energy sector to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
Manchin said he sees his talks with Schumer as “moving forward.” Yet his latest proposal has sparked anger mixed with pragmatism from fellow Democrats.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters she didn’t know what was left of her party but added, “I would be very disappointed if there was no money to save the world.” A spokesman for Schumer did not respond to requests for comment.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was skeptical of Manchin’s endorsement of the health care package. “Look, this guy has changed his mind” earlier, Jayapal told reporters. “Then let’s see. I have no confidence.”
“If there was a guarantee that we could get more money in September, I’m open,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., who chairs the Ways and Means Committee on Taxation. But in order to go to the altar, at some point we have to say, ‘I do.’
Delaying action until the end of August would leave Democrats facing an alarming clock. Special budget powers expire on Oct. 1 that would allow them to push the legislation through the 50-50 Senate against strong GOP opposition and Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
This would be a risk that the lack of democracy due to COVID-19 or any other reason could leave them missing the votes they need. It would also encourage action until weeks before the November election, when any votes can quickly be turned into campaign-damaging ads.
Mr. Manchin said he was worried that raising taxes would lead to unemployment and that some of his party’s environmental policies would hinder “what this country needs to run the economy and the lives of people.”
Some Democrats say the benefits of the increase could be more than just making more taxpayers and big corporations pay more taxes. And they have also found that reducing inflation helps reduce inflation by reducing government borrowing, which would have helped to raise interest rates.
AP reporters Farnoush Amiri, Matthew Daly and Will Weissert contributed to this story.