Manchin raises concerns over inflation, climate agenda at Biden lunch

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWhy Biden's Interior Department isn't shutting down oil and gas Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (D-W.Va.) said he raised concerns over inflation and the Biden administration's climate agenda during a lunch meeting with the president on Wednesday where lawmakers discussed their infrastructure plans.

Manchin told reporters after the event that he voiced his worries about rising prices and moving away from carbon-emitting fuel such as coal, an important part of West Virginia's economy.

“I said I’m concerned about inflation and I said I want to see more of the details of what’s going on,” he said. “I’m concerned also about maintaining the energy independence the United States of America has and with that you cannot be moving toward eliminating the fossil [fuel].”

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His remarks come a day after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer prices were up 5.4 percent in June compared to a year ago. Last month's 0.9 percent increase from May was almost double what economists were expecting.

Manchin said his constituents in West Virginia are getting hit by inflation.

“I’m concerned. In West Virginia — I spoke about that just now — that people are paying much higher gas prices, they’re paying food prices. ... Every type of product and goods has gone up considerably,” he told reporters.

Manchin also indicated that he pushed back on the president's proposals to move the economy away from fossil fuels.

“I told him that I was concerned about some of the language I’d seen to move us away from fossil. I said if you move our country away from fossil and there won’t be another country that will step to the plate to do the research and development that will fix the emissions that are coming,” he said.

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When pressed on whether he said that directly to President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE, Manchin appeared to backtrack and indicated his comments were directed at Senate Democratic leadership.

When asked if Biden singled him out at all during the lunch, Manchin acknowledged the president made reference to him but in a friendly way to make light of the fact that they both share the same first name.

“We have a great relationship,” said Manchin, who added that Biden focused on how his infrastructure plan would help rehabilitate abandoned mining properties in West Virginia and create well-paying jobs in the state.