Sen. Joe Manchin announced on Wednesday he has reached a breakthrough agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a spending package to “address record inflation by paying down our national debt, lowering energy costs and lowering health care costs.” The surprise deal comes after recent weeks of negotiations on a broader deal that had appeared bleak.
In a major reversal, the West Virginia Democrat announced Wednesday he would support the measure, which he called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, saying it would help address energy costs and climate change – components central to the Biden administration’s agenda that have for months faced setbacks and been stalled.
“For too long, the reconciliation debate in Washington has been defined by how it can help advance Democrats’ political agenda called Build Back Better,” Manchin said in a statement on Wednesday, in a reference to the massive spending bill President Joe Biden has been seeking until it was derailed by Manchin’s own lack of support late last year. “Build Back Better is dead,” Manchin said today, “and instead we have the opportunity to make our country stronger by bringing Americans together.”
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Democrats were expecting to pursue a more narrow bill after Manchin showed opposition in recent weeks to including climate and energy provisions. The filibuster-proof legislation requires the support of all 50 Democratic senators to pass, with Vice President Kamala Harris available to cast a tie-breaking vote.
The bill “would dedicate hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction by adopting a tax policy that protects small businesses and working-class Americans while ensuring that large corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share in taxes,” Manchin said, although he did not share the specifics about the agreement.
Wednesday’s development could tee up movement on the bill as early as next week, given support from the Senate parliamentarian. The chamber is set to break for August recess after next week.
“It is past time for America to begin paying down our $30 trillion national debt and get serious about the record inflation that is crushing the wages of American workers,” he said. Earlier Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in response to what Fed Chairman Jerome Powell called “elevated” inflation.
Biden expressed his support for the senators’ agreement on Wednesday, hailing the legislation as a win for lowering prescription drug prices and insurance costs, energy and climate change, reducing the deficit and fighting inflation.
“This is the action the American people have been waiting for,” the president said.
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