WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — Democrats should delay President Joe Biden’s signature economic package until later this summer, Sen. Joe Manchin said Friday, a demand that would jeopardize the party’s environment and fiscal goals and postpone a showdown. in Congress on the plan until the top of November. elections.
The key West Virginia Democrat said on a statewide radio show that if party leaders want to plan votes on the still-emerging measure this month, they should limit it to provisions that lower pharmaceutical prices, extending federal subsidies to health care. soon-to-expire health insurance and reducing federal costs. deficits
That would mean excluding other major goals the party has pursued under Biden. These include pushing for a switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources and paying for their priorities by taxing the wealthiest Americans and businesses. Party leaders hoped to get those initiatives done in time to show them to voters before elections in which Republicans could win control of Congress.
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Manchin spoke a day after telling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he could not now support a bill that included other party goals, such as fighting climate change and raising taxes on the rich and poor. large corporations, according to a Democrat briefed on those talks. The two lawmakers have been negotiating for months on a package that is expected to fetch about $1 trillion over 10 years, with about half used to cut federal deficits.
Manchin said Democrats should wait until July inflation figures are available, which would be in August. He also wants lawmakers to weigh the Federal Reserve’s next actions on interest rates as it struggles to rein in rising prices and stave off a recession.
“Let’s wait until that comes out to know that we’re going down a path that’s not going to be incendiary to add more inflation,” Manchin said on “Talkline,” a West Virginia radio show hosted by Hoppy Kercheval.
Support from Manchin, one of his party’s most conservative members of Congress, will make or break any measure Democrats can produce in the evenly split Senate. While he has expressed concern for months about going ahead with a measure that could fuel inflation, his latest demands come days after the government said consumer costs rose last month at an annual rate of 9.1 percent. percent, the steepest increase since 1981.
Democrats want to agree on a package and pass it through Congress before lawmakers begin an August recess. The measure faces some unanimous opposition from Republicans.
Delaying action until after the recess would leave Democrats with a dangerously ticking clock. Special budget powers expire Oct. 1 that would allow them to push the legislation through the Senate 50-50 over solid opposition from the GOP with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
That would pose a risk that any Democratic absence due to COVID-19 or any other reason would leave them without the votes they need. It would also propel congressional action until just weeks before the November election, when any vote can quickly turn into a damaging campaign attack ad.