Biden urges Congress to pass health care bill after Manchin talks falter

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,358
52,069
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A defiant Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) on Friday said it was not “prudent” for Democrats to try to advance a sweeping health care, climate and tax package this month amid a recent sharp rise in prices nationally, putting his party on a collision course ahead of the fast-approaching midterm elections.

Instead, Manchin stressed that Democrats now had to choose: They could accept a smaller deal this July focused on health care costs, or they can try again in the coming weeks once he has had a chance to assess whether the health of the economy has improved.
The ultimatum prompted President Biden to intervene Friday afternoon, urging Democrats to finalize a health care package this month while promising his administration would take “strong executive action” in the face of congressional delay. Citing rising drug costs and the threat of sky-high premiums, Biden stressed in a statement that Congress “must act quickly and get legislation to my desk to deliver for American families.”



But the dynamic left Democratic lawmakers seething, fretting that once again the pivotal moderate had doomed Biden’s broader economic agenda. Already, the party had abandoned its more audacious proposals to expand child care, education and a wide-array of poverty-fighting programs — only to face the reality that the concessions still weren’t enough to win Manchin’s must-have vote.
“Senator Manchin has said a lot of things. Every time, what he makes clear over and over again, is he can’t close a deal and that you can’t trust what he says,” lamented Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the left-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus, which had tussled with Manchin for months in pursuit of a larger package. The House passed its own $2 trillion version of the legislation in November.
The latest dispute first exploded into public view late Thursday, after Manchin privately told Democratic leaders he could not at the moment support a bill that contains new spending to combat climate change or seeks to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations. The senator’s stance, as first reported by The Washington Post, immediately imperiled lawmakers’ initial plans to advance a bill before the end of July.



On Friday morning, Manchin then offered new, finer detail on the exact scope of his demands. Appearing on local West Virginia radio, he said he might, indeed, support additional spending on Democrats’ top priorities, including climate change — but only after he sees the next round of inflation numbers, which will be released Aug. 10.
“Inflation is wreaking havoc on everybody’s life,” Manchin said.
Otherwise, the senator said he would only lend his immediate support to a more scaled-down effort that focused on lowering health insurance costs and reducing drug prices for seniors. That could spare roughly 13 million Americans from seeing insurance premium increases set to take effect next year, when an existing federal aid program expires.

Manchin’s approach ultimately reflected the intensity of his fiscal austerity, seven months after his concerns about spending prompted him to scuttle Democrats’ earlier, roughly $2 trillion package, known as the Build Back Better Act. The senator only grew more troubled in recent days, as new federal data showed that the price of gasoline, groceries and other goods surged by more than 9 percent last month compared to a year earlier.


“Can’t we wait to make sure we do nothing to add to that? And I can’t make that decision on basically taxes of any type and also on energy and climate,” Manchin said. “But I’m not going to do something, and overreach, that causes more problems.”
Still, his stance immediately left Democrats in an impossible political bind. Without his help, they cannot advance their spending bill, since they need his vote to use the process known as budget reconciliation. The tactic allows the party — with the aid of Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote — to overcome Republicans’ unanimous opposition and prevent a filibuster.
Democrats see hope for spending deal with Manchin as Congress returns
If Democrats act now, opting for haste, they could achieve major health care reforms. But taking a deal this month may also foreclose their chance to secure historic spending to fight climate change. Party lawmakers had hoped to seize on their rare control of the House, Senate and White House to reduce dangerous emissions and lessen the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, particularly in the event that Republicans take control of Congress this fall.



If Democrats choose to hold off, they might have one final chance to secure a larger deal with Manchin in the months ahead. But they have no guarantee that the senator ultimately would support them after more than a year of ill-fated wrangling, a seemingly endless back-and-forth that has seen Manchin seek delays or change his mind multiple times. Adding to the pressure, Democrats would have to act by Sept. 30 — or risk losing the ability to advance spending legislation using reconciliation entering the new fiscal year.
“The challenge is, do we take the short term and not get anything bigger?” asked Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the leader of the tax-focused House Ways and Means Committee. “Or do we hold our for the possibility of bringing Joe into the fold?”
Neal said he wanted a “bigger deal,” describing the House-passed $2 trillion bill — which included tax increases targeting wealthy Americans and corporations — as “very popular.” But he said it would ultimately fall to Democratic leaders, including Biden, to chart the way forward.




 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,358
52,069
113
Faced with a difficult balancing act, many Democrats on Friday erupted in anger, especially those who had most fervently hoped for a sweeping deal around climate change. Some acknowledged there is no guarantee Manchin would eventually support the legislation if they waited at least a month to act.
“It’s infuriating, and nothing short of tragic, that he appears to be walking away again from taking action on climate and energy,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a staunch advocate for investments to combat climate change, acknowledging Manchin’s comments were “slightly different this morning.”
“My preference continues to be to pass the best piece of legislation we can that has 50 votes,” she said. “I don’t feel a high degree of confidence right now the 50 votes we need are going to be any different in August [or September].”



In a rare rebuke, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) directly blasted Manchin for his stance — since he is the leader of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Noting that the country has a unique “opportunity to address the crisis,” Heinrich tweeted that he was left to question “why [Manchin is] chair” of the panel.
And Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a longtime advocate for aggressive action on climate change, faulted Manchin for his approach. Markey said that all signs are reporting to an inflation report next month that is lower, as gas prices begin to fall, meaning lawmakers “could have factored that in and moved forward right now.”
In the days before the discussions collapsed, Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) haggled privately with Manchin, as the two had done for months. At one point, party officials even offered to drop a key proposal setting a minimum tax on corporations in exchange for climate spending, according to a person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the talks. The move was meant to address Manchin’s concerns about raising taxes as inflation soared, while paving the way for new climate spending.



But the late concessions proved insufficient, the source said, as Manchin stood his ground. On Friday, he called for an energy policy that combines investments in the “cleaner” production of fossil fuels with new federal efforts to foster “cleaner technologies.”
“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve had … good negotiations,” Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews radio. “There’s no human being who would put themselves through this if they weren’t sincere about trying to make things good for our country.”
For the moment, Schumer has not indicated the path forward in the Senate, where work remains underway to prepare critical portions of the spending package for floor consideration. Democrats are set to confront the impasse directly at their private weekly lunch on Tuesday, two other people familiar with the matter said. They are expected to try to devise a strategy in the wake of Manchin’s demands, the aide said, at a time when tensions are running high.



Schumer aides declined to comment on Friday.
At the White House, meanwhile, top aides to Biden already had grown dismayed and cynical about the negotiations. Only seven months earlier, the last attempt at a grand bargain around an economic package ended in public acrimony, with Manchin and the White House trading sharp barbs over who was to blame for collapse in talks.
“This is how the White House has always feared this would end,” said one White House adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to reflect conversations with administration officials. “It really is a stunning turnaround from the dreams of a Green New Deal to this.”
On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment about the reports that Manchin would not support any new spending on climate change or new taxes.
“As you’ve heard us say, we are not going to negotiate in public,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president headed from Israel to Saudi Arabia. When reporters pressed her to provide any detail on the negotiations or Biden’s reaction to Manchin’s stance, she responded: “We’re still part of these negotiations. I’m not going to say more.”
 

EasyHawk

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Jun 21, 2015
9,502
14,377
113
Goodness, Biden and crew can't really still want to pass this wasteful spending bill can they? Thank goodness Manchin has his wits about him and is standing strong! BBB would be ludicrous right now. Even a third of it would be too much.
 

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
72,358
52,069
113
Goodness, Biden and crew can't really still want to pass this wasteful spending bill can they? Thank goodness Manchin has his wits about him and is standing strong! BBB would be ludicrous right now. Even a third of it would be too much.
:rolleyes: