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Manchin denies he opposes Democratic spending bill, says he’ll wait until August to decide

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pushed back Friday on reports that he had ruled out including tax hikes and climate change subsidies within the Democrats’ party-line spending bill, saying he would wait until July inflation numbers are out next month to decide. 

Manchin told West Virginia MetroNews that claims he had walked away from the negotiating table with were widely overblown. The centrist Democrat claimed to only have expressed caution about moving forward with the package before having a clear picture of inflation and the national economy. 

“I said can we just wait until the inflation figures come out [for] July, until we know if the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates,” said Manchin. “Then make the decision on what we can do and how much we can do.”

MANCHIN SAYS HE WON’T SUPPORT CLIMATE, TAX PROVISIONS IN SWEEPING DEMOCRATIC BILL 

Manchin said that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., took that request as an indication that he would not support raising taxes or tackling climate change. He further claimed that leaks to the media saying as much were an attempt to pressure him into capitulating. 

“I guess they just tried to put pressure on me,” said Manchin. “But they’ve been doing that for over a year now, it doesn’t make any sense at all.” 

The West Virginia Democrat has been negotiating privately with Schumer over the size and scale of the spending package, which can only pass via a party-line process known as budget reconciliation. Since the Senate is split 50-50 between both parties, Manchin’s support is key to success. 

Democrats faced that reality last year when Manchin refused to sign on to a $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill, named Build Back Better, over fears it would exacerbate inflation. 

“Inflation is wreaking havoc on everybody’s lives, I don’t care what social rung you are on,” said Manchin. “So that’s why that one got killed, there is no such thing as Build Back Better.” 

INFLATION: MSNBC HOST, EX-OBAMA ADVISER PRAISE JOE MANCHIN FOR KILLING BIDEN’S BUILD BACK BETTER PLAN

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., is seated before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee. On Monday, he addressed a gun legislation deal that could become law.

Earlier this week, the Labor Department reported that inflation had grown by 9.1% over the past year — the largest increase since 1981. The impact has been felt most highly by American workers when it comes to the cost of gasoline and groceries. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which keeps track of inflation numbers, notes that gasoline prices are up more than 60% over the past year. Similarly, food prices have risen more than 10% over the past 12 months, with the price of chicken alone skyrocketing by more than 18%.

Few economists expect inflation to decrease significantly any time soon. That is partially why some Democrats were apoplectic about delaying consideration of the spending bill. 

Manchin said that if Senate Democrats were on a deadline and wanted to pass the bill by the end of July they would have to settle for less. 

“If you’re on a political deadline, the one thing you know you can get done is to write a piece of legislation on reducing drug prices, letting Medicare negotiate,” he said. “That saves about$288 billion over 10 years, take “$40 billion of that and extend the Affordable Care Act … and take the other $240 billion and put it toward debt reduction.” 

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