Sen. Joe Manchin said negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the $739 billion spending bill have continued for months amid fears the legislation is already fueling an already high level. inflation rate.
The moderate Democrat from West Virginia, whose opposition to President Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better Act sank measure in December said he started working with Schumer on the simplified package in the spring – in a process sometimes interrupted by rising inflation rates.
“On this one here, we started in April and kept working, and working, and working and coming and going. And all of a sudden inflation went from 6, to 8.1, to 9.1 and I said, ‘Hey. Chuck, listen, we better wait and see what happens in July, the numbers will come in August before we do anything more,” Manchin said on NBC News “Meet the Press” in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
“And that’s where Chuck got mad at me, and I understand that. And he says, ‘Oh, here we go again’, and whatever. I said, ‘No, Chuck.’ I said, ‘I’m just being very careful. I’m not going to be responsible for inflaming inflation rates. I’m just not going to do it,” Manchin said, a deciding vote in the Senate 50-50.
He said when the tensions eased, he and Schumer went back to the drawing board to reduce it even further.
“But in the end, we narrowed it down and reduced it to 739. Nothing inflammatory about this legislation,” Manchin said.
Manchin, who revealed that Biden was kicked out of the talks on the measurement of expenditure, announced the agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act with Schumer last Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.75% in an effort to calm inflation.
The next day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy contracted 0.9% in the second quarter after falling 1.6% in the first quarter – meeting the criteria for a recession.
Democrats will try to push through the spending plan, which faces intense Republican Opposition in the House and Senate, through reconciliation – a legislative tactic that will allow them to circumvent the usual 60-vote threshold for approving legislation.
With Manchin on board, all eyes have turned to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) to see if she will vote for the 50th vote – allowing Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie.
Sinema, who has opposed parts of Biden’s national agenda, has yet to comment on the legislation.
When asked if Sinema would vote yes, Manchin called the Arizona lawmaker “a friend of mine” and said the provisions she was looking for were in the bill.
“She has a huge, huge contribution to this bill. These are things that everyone has been working on for the last eight months or more. And she basically insisted that there was no tax increase. We did it. She was very, very adamant about it, and I support her and agree with her,” Manchin said.
“She was also very important in making sure that we had drug prices that Medicare could compete on certain drugs to bring them down so that there was no impact on individuals, on Medicare at through. She did all of that,” he said. … “And I’d like to think that she would support it, that I respect her decision. She will make her own decision based on the content.