Pundits wonder what Joe Manchin got to bring him back to the negotiating table
It was announced Wednesday that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was able to come to an agreement with Democrats over a larger package that included inflation measures, prescription drug reductions and efforts to mitigate climate change. Manchin had said last week that he couldn't vote for it because he was too worried about the money being spent impacting inflation negatively.
On Thursday, Manchin was telling his hometown radio that the whole package was dead but he was hopeful they could come together in September around something. He made it clear, however, that the stripped-down version of Build Back Better was never going to happen.
"The major shift in negotiations — confirmed by two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the talks — threatened to upend the delicate process to adopt the party’s signature economic package seven months after Manchin scuttled the original, roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better Act, which President Biden had endorsed," said the Washington Post last week.
“To have those negotiations, to go on as long as they have, and now to say that’s out, that is frustrating,” Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) told the New York Times last week. He didn't single out Manchin, however. “The administration needs to continue to push."
Manchin then became a target by some Democrats who were drawing a line at his inability to cooperate to help his colleagues achieve meaningful legislation in an election year.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) told Raw Story last week the Senate should remove Manchin's chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee and hand it to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) instead.
"The Senate is the Senate. It doesn't matter what any of us do. It doesn't matter what the administration does, we've got one person who's trying to dictate policy for the entire country and it's a shame," said Yarmuth.
The Senate, he continued, is "tilted to small rule, white states and they have rules that exacerbate the minority rule. And unfortunately, we have one member that thinks he knows better than any other Democrat. I would go to Lisa Murkowski and ask if she'd like to be chair of the Energy Committee. That's what I'd do."
The bill has now evolved from Build Back Better to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which is a kind of "Christmas tree bill" which does address inflation but also several other issues that were added. Manchin is doing it under reconciliation, which means that it doesn't have to have a 60-vote super majority to pass and instead only needs 50 votes to pass.
It prompted former Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele to wonder what Manchin got in return for his cooperation.
"The best I can decode it is something sweetened the pot for Manchin," said Steele. "And that peace has not been revealed, because it is at least 120 degrees away or from where he was about a week ago. Now we are at a 180 position where he is saying, 'Yeah, okay, we can do this because inflation was the thing.' We haven't gotten to the inflation numbers for July, because July isn't over. So, that was the bar that we had across the last time, a week ago. Now we seemingly have crossed it without any mention of it in this latest ground. So, clearly something sweetened the pot. When I think sweetened the pot goes back to the broader question of the numbers showing that there is some level on the ground where democrats can hold the house."
Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean agreed but wondered where Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is on the issue because she has always said she's against many parts of the legislation.
"Where is Krysten Sinema, who has also been a major problem for the Democrats in the Senate?" he asked. "If she wants to win reelection, she's going to have to do some mighty big changing. So, maybe she will. But I agree, a deal was made. We don't know what it is yet, but we are almost totally going to find out."
Dean also noted that the GOP strategy has always been to stop anything from passing when Democrats are in charge.
"Especially when you have a Democratic president, so then the Democratic president gets blamed because nothing passes," he explained. "The real problem is Manchin won't pass anything. Although, early today, he yielded a little bit on that."
What did Manchin get for his climate agreements youtu.be
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