Biden to Senate: Pass health bill and I’ll tackle climate through executive action
President Biden on Friday told senators to move forward with a slimmed-down, health care-only reconciliation package before their August recess after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) struck a blow to his agenda over its tax and climate provisions, which Biden said he will address through executive action.
“After decades of fierce opposition from powerful special interests, Democrats have come together, beaten back the pharmaceutical industry and are prepared to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices and to prevent an increase in health insurance premiums for millions of families with coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said in a statement.
“The Senate should move forward, pass it before the August recess, and get it to my desk so I can sign it,” he said.
Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday that if Democrats move the budget reconciliation bill in August, he will only support a provision to lower prescription drug prices and a two-year extension of expiring health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
The senator said he would reject the climate spending and tax hikes on the wealthy in the package, only supporting a narrow budget reconciliation package before Labor Day.
In response, Biden said he will move on his climate agenda through executive action.
“Action on climate change and clean energy remains more urgent than ever,” he said. “So let me be clear: if the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment.”
Biden said his actions to address climate change would “protect us from oil and gas price hikes in the future.”
Biden’s statement comes while the president is on a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to discuss energy security, though the White House has signaled there will not be an immediate announcement on boosting oil production on the trip.
The president argued that the reconcilation package will help combat inflation, which the White House has been including in their messaging on it.
Manchin cited this week’s latest inflation report, which showed inflation jumping 9.1 percent in June compared to a year ago, as the reason the chances of him supporting a bill with climate provisions and tax reform anytime soon evaporated.
Schumer is pushing to move the reconciliation package to the floor before September, to align with when states plan to announce premium increases under the Affordable Care Act next month.
Earlier on Friday, the White House offered no reaction to Manchin, saying they would not negotiate in public but that the president will “use every tool in his toolbox” to get a deal on climate.