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Top Senate Democrat pushes back against Biden and urges locking in a larger climate and tax bill with Manchin

Joseph Zeballos-Roig   

Top Senate Democrat pushes back against Biden and urges locking in a larger climate and tax bill with Manchin
  • A top Senate Democrat wants to try to lock in a bigger deal with an elusive Manchin.
  • "Legislation continues to be the best option here," Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said.

The Senate's top tax-writing Democrat is urging Democrats take a final shot at swaying Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia on a larger climate and tax package after he put another dagger into the economic legislation last week.

"Conversations on clean energy must continue to preserve our options to move forward," Sen. Ron Wyden said in a Monday statement. "Without long-term certainty, investment in clean domestic energy will fall far short of what is necessary to reduce carbon emissions and secure lower prices for American consumers."

"While I strongly support additional executive action by President Biden, we know a flood of Republican lawsuits will follow," Wyden said. "Legislation continues to be the best option here."

The Oregon Democrat's comments amount to the first sign of dissent to President Joe Biden's push for Congress to pass a skinny economic package centered on cutting health-care costs in the wake of Manchin's move against the broader bill. Biden vowed to combat the climate emergency using executive authority in lieu of pursuing bills in Congress if needed.

However, Wyden isn't threatening to hold up the reconciliation bill or oppose the more narrow legislation. All 50 Senate Democrats must coalesce behind the economic package to muscle it through the upper chamber without Republicans in budget reconciliation.

The slimmer bill is expected to contain two initiatives that Manchin said he could support before Congress adjourns for the recess: An extension of financial assistance for Americans buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act. along with a measure to slash prescription drug costs.

Democrats are fuming after Manchin abruptly came out against much of the bill that he'd spent months negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont lobbed a fresh attack and accused Manchin of "sabotaging" the Biden agenda on Sunday.

The conservative Democrat said in a West Virginia radio interview on Friday that he was unwilling to strike a deal on clean energy programs along with tax hikes to pay for it until the release of the July inflation report early next month. That's a major hurdle since Congress will have adjourned for its summer recess by then.

But Manchin has suggested that he is open to an agreement on a larger package without committing to the final product and backing it in September."I haven't walked away from anything, and inflation is my greatest concern," Manchin told reporters on Monday.

However, Manchin has previously either pulled the plug or demanded changes to shrink a potential reconciliation bill when Democrats believed they were close to locking down the support of the mercurial moderate.

A top White House economic adviser pushed back against Manchin's claims that the tax increases that he had long backed until he came out against them would worsen inflation. "It's really hard for me to put the phrase together because I think it's the other way," White House adviser Jared Bernstein said at a news conference. "Deficit reduction is disinflationary and tax increases fit into that.


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