Manchin pumps brakes: Bill ‘needs to be scrubbed much better’

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday pumped the brakes on negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) over a budget reconciliation bill, warning that it “needs to be scrubbed much better” after a new report showed that inflation hit 9.1 percent in June. 

Manchin told reporters Wednesday he’s not sure if he can agree to anything beyond the prescription drug reform component of the bill, which has already been sent to the Senate parliamentarian’s office and has the support of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus.  

“We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing, OK, on Medicare,” he told reporters. “Is there any more we can do? I don’t know, but I am very, very cautious.

“And I’m going to make sure that I have every input on scrubbing everything humanly possible that could be considered inflammatory,” he said.  

He said that “deficit reduction is going to be 50 percent” of the new revenue gained from prescription drug savings and tax reforms, such as a 3.8 percent tax on wealthy individuals and couples who earn more than $400,000 or $500,000, respectively, from pass-through businesses.  

He said the latest inflation report showing prices have increased by 9.1 percent compared to a year ago means negotiators are going to have to slow down and proceed more cautiously on putting together the budget bill.  

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“Basically, take your time and make sure we do it and do it right. We can’t afford mistakes in the highest inflation we’ve seen in the last 40 years,” he said.  

Manchin has pushed back against a goal set by other Democrats of passing the bill before the August recess, saying that he sees Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, as the deadline. 

Manchin, however, did not rule out including a provision to continue subsidies of health insurance plans provided under the Affordable Care Act, explaining that whether he could agree to extended subsidies would depend on how they are drafted and paid for.  

“It depends on if we can look at things and find a pathway forward that is not inflammatory,” he said.  

But the West Virginia senator also emphasized that he’s more inclined to keep the spending in the bill as modest as possible to avoid further stimulating an overheated economy. 

“Anything that can be inflationary right now with 9.1 percent should be a red herring because we cannot inflame this inflationary position we have right now with the hardship it has on everybody in the country, especially in my state,” he said.  

Manchin said there’s been no talk of lifting the cap on the state and local tax deduction (SALT), something that two Democrats from the Northeast, Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J) and Thomas Suozzi (N.Y.), are demanding.  

“SALT’s not been in the talks at all,” he said.  

Tags budget reconciliation Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Inflation Joe Manchin Joe Manchin Medicare
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