Manchin Threatens Fellow Democrats’ Climate Spending Proposals

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is reportedly considering rejecting spending bill proposals made by fellow Democrats to allocate new funds for climate and energy programs.

Manchin reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday “unequivocally” that he would only support the party’s proposal to lower prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act.

By Friday, however, Manchin was walking back on his position somewhat. He said that he will now wait until the July inflation numbers are reported next month to decide how he will vote.

Manchin also told reporters on Friday that claims he had rejected further negotiations were “widely overblown.” He now says that after seeing new inflation data and knowing if “the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates” he can “make the decision on what we can do and how much we can do.”

If Manchin holds to his earlier reported position, it will block much of the Biden White House’s already scaled-down “Build Back Better” spending agenda. Without the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, the party’s climate plans cannot advance.

Manchin’s press spokesman Sam Runyon issued a statement earlier in the week saying the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas find “no value” in political headlines. He said that Manchin believes it is time to “put political agendas aside” and adjust to economic reality.

Runyon added that Manchin believes the Senate should “avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

Manchin’s reported refusal to go along with his party’s plans for massive new spending on climate agenda items led to immediate outrage from progressives and environmentalists.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) posted a tweet on Thursday saying he believes in the “power of the Green New Deal” and the “power of young people.” He added, “Rage keeps me from tears. Resolve keeps me from despair. We will not allow a future of climate disaster.”

League of Conservation Voters vice president Tiernan Sittenfeld condemned Manchin for “choosing to stand with polluters.” He said he could not find words to describe how “appalled, outraged, and disappointed” his organization is.

Schumer reportedly made public and private concessions to attempt to secure Manchin’s support without success. The Senate leader offered to use half of new revenues from tax increases on deficit reduction and to include permit reform measures on oil and natural gas leasing.

If Manchin stands firm, the heat will be on other Democrats who will now have to decide whether to go along with a package that does not include their expansive climate programs but does provide smaller wins on drug pricing and ACA subsidies.