On Wednesday, the Labor Department released its latest figures on the economy, showing inflation for the month of June at an astounding 9.1 percent. The following day, a second report relating figures regarding wholesale inflation coming in at 11.3 percent. GOP lawmakers have laid the blame for such red-hot inflation at the feet of the Democratic Party, saying that government spending is a driving force behind such numbers. President Joe Biden has called the figures “out-of-date” and then called for support behind a new budget bill scheduled to come before the Senate in August.
Late Thursday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV), a moderate, relayed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he would “unequivocally” refuse to support the reconciliation bill if it contained “any provisions on energy or climate” or closed “loopholes exploited by the wealthy and biggest corporations.”
Some pundits say that the bill would actually target the owners of small businesses.
This statement comes after months of negotiations between Senator Manchin and other members of his party. Up until Thursday, Manchin had supported the bill. The bill also offers provisions that would lower prescription drug prices and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies for the next two years.
The package is considered a “sweeping” legislative package, and Democrats had hoped for its passage to bolster support during the upcoming midterm elections.
Some lawmakers have compared the package to President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda that failed in the Senate last year due to a lack of support by Senator Manchin. However, Manchin did say publicly that he would work with his colleagues on an alternate version of the bill. The current reconciliation package would have cost approximately $1 trillion.
A spokesperson for Senator Manchin’s office, Sam Runyon, told Fox News Digital: “Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas. Senator Manchin believes it’s time to put political agendas aside (and) adjust to . . .(current) economic realities.”
Should the Democratic Party continue on with the bill and remove the legislation which Manchin says he cannot support, the final bill will be much smaller. It will also lack funding for “clean energy incentives” that the party has promised its base to provide.
One of the provisions the party had already removed at the request of Manchin included paid family leave.
Without Manchin’s vote – and possibly Kyrsten Sinema’s – the proposed legislation will not make it through the process of reconciliation. Reconciliation is often used when all that is needed to pass a bill is a majority vote. When the Senate approves a measure via reconciliation, the bill does not need a 60 vote majority to pass.
Joe Manchin had personally said on Wednesday, after the latest Labor Department report was released, that he felt “more cautious than I’ve ever been” about lending his vote to a bill that could “fuel further price increases.” Republicans have already commented on the likelihood that the legislation would further fuel inflation “by boosting spending and raising taxes.”
At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office has said that measures that would lower the price of prescription drugs would save $288 billion over a ten-year period, which many believe would offset the cost of continuing subsidies associated with President Obama’s healthcare legislation. The subsidies are used to help lower-income Americans purchase healthcare coverage. The assistance is set to expire in January.
Although Manchin often gets the most media attention for standing up to his Democratic colleagues, the Associated Press says there is “recent grumbling” from moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives over raising taxes during an election year. Manchin has been a proverbial thorn in the side of many of his Democratic colleagues, but he has vowed to do what is best for the citizens of his home state. West Virginia has historically been a coal mining state, and over 14,000 West Virginians are employed in some facet of the mining industry.
There has been no official comment from the White House on the matter.