HomePoliticsManchin cancels climate and tax talks, scales back his national plan

Manchin cancels climate and tax talks, scales back his national plan

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, called off negotiations Thursday to salvage key pieces of President Biden’s agenda, informing his party leaders that he would not support funding climate or energy programs or raise taxes. to rich Americans and corporations

The decision by Manchin, a conservative-leaning Democrat whose opposition has effectively stalled Biden’s economic package in the evenly divided Senate, dealt a devastating blow to his party’s efforts to enact a comprehensive social safety net, climate and fiscal package. .

In recent months, Democrats had scaled back their ambitions for such a plan to win over Manchin, hoping he would agree to support even a fraction of the radical initiative they once envisioned. His abrupt change seemed to frustrate those aspirations.

The change capped weeks of arduous negotiations to cobble together a package that could win Manchin’s support. It came seven months after West Virginia abruptly left the talks and rejected a much broader plan.

“Political headlines are worthless to the millions of Americans struggling to pay for groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1 percent,” said Sam Runyon, a spokeswoman for Manchin. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to put aside political agendas, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities facing the country to avoid taking actions that add fuel to the inflationary fire.”

“Senator Manchin has not walked away from the table,” he added.

As of Thursday morning, Democrats had remained cautiously optimistic that a deal could be reached, provided Manchin’s repeated calls to address the national debt, tax reform and drug prices followed.

washington post previously reported details of the conversationwhich were confirmed by two people briefed on the discussion.

Because Democrats hold the Senate by a simple 50-50 majority, Mr. Manchin has been able to effectively exercise veto power over the domestic policy package, which the party had planned to pass under a special accelerated budget process that it would make it possible to avoid obstructionism and pass with a simple majority. With Democrats preparing to lose in this fall’s midterm elections, the package could be the party’s last chance to enact substantial tax and spending legislation while still holding the White House and both houses of Congress.

By rejecting any provisions on climate and energy, Mr. Manchin appeared to have single-handedly shattered Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda and what would have been the largest single federal investment in US history to address the cost. of climate change.

His decision came just days after a report showed prices rose 9.1 percent in June, exacerbating existing fears about inflation and rising costs for Americans every day. But while Manchin has long sounded the alarm bells about inflation and the national debt, he too has remained open to reforming the tax code, a position he appears to have reversed.

It surprised Democratic officials who had worked to win Manchin’s vote. As recently as Friday, Democrats said they had coalesced around a plan to use proceeds from tax levies on some high-income Americans to expand the solvency of a key Medicare fund.

But it was particularly devastating for those who had defended the climate and energy provisions. In calls to several climate activists Thursday night, Schumer and his staff seemed shaken, saying that until a few hours earlier they believed a deal was still possible, said a person who spoke with Schumer.

Without congressional action, Mr. Biden’s goal of cutting US emissions roughly in half by the end of this decade will be impossible to achieve. That goal was aimed at holding the planet to stabilize the climate at about 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming compared to pre-industrial levels.

The Earth has already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius, or about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Lawmakers and activists who have led the charge for action to combat climate change expressed their outrage Thursday night.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat my disappointment here, especially since almost all climate and energy issues have been resolved,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “This is our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic and costly effects of climate change. We cannot go back in another decade and prevent hundreds of billions, if not trillions, in economic damage and undo the inevitable human cost.”

“If we can’t move forward as we hoped, we need to salvage as much of this package as possible,” he added. “The expression that failure is not an option is overused, but failure really is not an option here.”

Leah Stokes, a professor of environmental policy at the University of California Santa Barbara who has advised congressional Democrats on climate legislation, sobbed Thursday night as she described the months of work she and other activists, scientists and legislative staff had invested in negotiations.

“There is a lot at stake,” he said. “It is outrageous that he is condemning our own children.”

Many were seething with anger at Mr. Manchin. They criticized him for snarling up negotiators, as he watered down a package that at one point would have been enough to slash emissions and also for adding fossil fuel projects that cut climate goals. In the final days of talks, clean energy tax breaks have been slashed and Manchin had been working to include approval of an offshore oil and gas lease and authorization for a fossil fuel project in his state, aides said. Congress.

Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit group, said Manchin had doomed future generations.

“There really are no words, at least words that are fit to print in The New York Times, for how shocked and outraged we are,” he said.

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