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Manchin Hit Brakes On Negotiations With Schumer On Budget Legislation

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin hit the brakes on a budget reconciliation bill being negotiated by Senate Majority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer, warning that it “needs to be scrubbed much better” as inflation reached 9.1 percent.

“We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing, OK? — on Medicare,” he said when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. “Is there any more we can do? I don’t know but I am very, very cautious, The Boston Herald reported.

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

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The senator said that “deficit reduction is going to be 50 percent” of the revenue that would be gained from prescription drug savings and reforms to taxes.

He spoke about the high inflation numbers in June and said that it means negotiations have to be slowed and negotiators have to be cautious.

“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.

Democrats want the legislation passed before the August recess but Manchin sees September 30 as the goal.

He did not rule out a provision that would continue to subsidize health insurance plans and said that it would depend on how it is paid for.

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

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But he wants to keep the spending in the bill moderate as to not continue to damage the 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.

In the beginning of the month a frustrated President Joe Biden called out two U.S. senators, both fellow Democrats, over their steadfast refusal to back efforts by their party to ditch the chamber’s filibuster rule in order to move key legislation.

Biden made his remarks ahead of a meeting on Friday with Democratic governors regarding ways to improve abortion access following last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the issue back to the states where it had resided before 1973.

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The president was referencing Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have repeatedly refused to blow up the filibuster, a rule that requires a 60-vote majority in order to move most legislation forward. The rule has been in place throughout most of the country’s history; it was put in place to give the minority party some leverage to control the legislative agenda.

The filibuster is a rule, not a constitutional requirement, however.

In pushing back on their party’s efforts to ditch the filibuster, Manchin and Sinema have regularly expressed concerns that should Democrats be successful in eliminating the rule, Republicans would also be able to force through legislation in the future with a bare majority. The current makeup of the Senate is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two Independents — Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who caucus with Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tiebreaking vote, thereby giving Democrats titular control over the chamber.

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“Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law. As I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of our ability to do that,” Biden said Friday.

“But right now, we do not have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster at the moment. That means we need two more votes now. Well not now, when we vote, probably after November,” he added.

“More senators and a House majority [were] elected in November to get this bill to my desk. So the choice is clear: we either elect federal senators and representatives who will codify Roe, or Republicans will elect the House and Senate and will try to ban abortions nationwide,” he claimed. “Nationwide. This is going to go one way or the other after November.”

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