Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his staff told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D, N.Y., unequivocally Thursday that he is only willing to support a reconciliation bill in August that includes a provision to lower prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversations.
Manchin was explicit that he won’t support a bill before the midterms with any provisions on energy and climate or closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthy and biggest corporations, despite his support for those specific things during months of negotiations.
Democrats had hoped to pass a sweeping package to tout during the midterms.
Schumer and Manchin have been negotiating the package for months and the West Virginia moderate had previously said he would be amenable to climate language and tax increases on higher earners in a bill roughly half the size of the $2 trillion social and environmental bill Manchin single-handedly killed last December.
“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon said in a statement to Fox News Digital Thursday. “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”
Manchin’s demands mean Democrats would probably only be able to produce a far smaller bill that erases the hopes of many in the party to use it to fund clean energy incentives that could begin to help curb global warming.
Previously, Democrats had removed other provisions like paid family leave amid negotiations with Manchin.
His vote is imperative for Democrats to be able to use the budget reconciliation process for the party-line bill, a process that only requires a majority vote rather than the 60-vote filibuster threshold.
Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate (including 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats) and Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.