As Democrats prepare to advance their social spending and taxation bill via a party-line budget reconciliation process, one of its chief sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin, says he thinks Republicans should be on board with it too.
Manchin, D-W.Va., cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the legislation last week, which would spend $433 billion and raise $739 billion in tax revenue, according to Democrats.
It’s unclear whether the bill will pass with support from all 50 Democrats. But Republicans are in lockstep against it, arguing it amounts to reckless taxing and spending during a recession.
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Manchin, however, says they’re being blinded by partisanship, and would be on board with the bill if Congress weren’t so polarized.
“The thing I talk to my Republican friends, they always want to make sure that – we’ve just got to have more energy. Well, guess what? We’re going to have a lot more,” Manchin told Fox News Digital Thursday. “We’re going to drill a lot more… We’re going to build some more gas lines to take the energy. And we’re going to invest in the future, energy for the future.”
“They always say, ‘well, we want to pay down debt.’ Well, we’re paying down $300 billion for the first time in 25 years,” Manchin added. “And then they’re saying, ‘you know what, we’ve just got to change the permitting processes, so we can do things quicker and better in America.’ We do that too.”
Manchin’s bill is the progeny of more than a year of negotiations on legislation that was originally called “Build Back Better.” Now titled the “Inflation Reduction Act,” it’s massively scaled down from the initial $3 trillion-plus reconciliation proposals.
The legislation includes provisions on fossil fuel energy, climate and green energy, prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act and the tax code. Manchin’s deal with Schumer also included a promise from top congressional Democrats to pass oil permitting reform before the end of September.
Republicans, meanwhile, say the bill will hurt the economy and middle class families right as the United States has entered a recession. They cite Joint Committee on Taxation data that shows nearly every income bracket will feel the burden of the new taxes, if indirectly. And they say that the taxes will harm manufacturers disproportionately, just after Congress passed legislation aimed at boosting U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing.
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“Folks who work in these companies – and remember half this is going to fall on manufacturers – they’re gonna see their wages and benefits be reduced because of this taxation at a time when they’re having a really hard time keeping up with current inflation,” Sen. Rob Portman. R-Ohio, said at a press conference Wednesday
Manchin’s comments on Republicans come as he’s still trying to get all Democrats on board with his legislation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the most high-profile holdout on the bill.
A spokesperson for Sinema’s office told Fox News Digitial that the senator is waiting for the Byrd Bath process to conclude before she decides on the bill. The Byrd Bath is when the Senate parliamentarian combs through the legislation to ensure all of its provisions conform with the Byrd Rule, which governs reconciliation bills. It requires that elements of the bill be fiscal in nature, and not pure policy matters.
Sinema and Manchin spoke to each other at length on the Senate floor Thursday.
Also still a holdout is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. He said Thursday that he is not decided on the bill, and will also wait until the Byrd Bath is over.
Schumer announced Thursday that the Senate is expected to take a procedural vote to begin debate on the reconciliation bill on Saturday afternoon. That likely means that he anticipates the Byrd Bath process will be over by then. It also sets a deadline for any undecideds – particularly Sinema – to come to a decision on whether they will support the legislation.
“I sure hope, you always hope for that,” Manchin said when asked by Fox News Digital if Democrats will have the bill ready for a vote by Saturday. “I always hope for the best, let’s put it that way.”