Manchin pulls the plug on climate and tax negotiations, shrinks domestically

WASHINGTON – Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, on Thursday pulled the plug on negotiations to save important pieces of President Biden’s agenda and informed his party’s leaders that he would not support funding for climate or energy programs or raise taxes on the wealthy. Americans and businesses.

The decision of Mr. Manchin, a conservative-oriented Democrat whose opposition has effectively stopped Mr. Biden’s economic package in the equally divided Senate, gave a devastating blow to his party’s efforts to introduce a broad social safety net, climate and tax package.

In recent months, Democrats had cut back on their ambitions for such a plan to win over Mr. Manchin in the hope that he would agree to support even a fraction of the comprehensive initiative they had once imagined. His abrupt shift seemed to break those hopes.

The shift ended weeks of painstaking negotiations to put together a package that could win Mr. Manchin’s support. It came seven months after West Virginian abruptly walked away from negotiations and rejected a far bigger plan.

“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas while inflation rises to 9.1 percent,” said Sam Runyon, a spokeswoman for Mr. Manchin. “Senator Manchin believes it is time for leaders to set aside political agendas, reconsider and adapt to the economic realities facing the country to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

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

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

The Washington Post previously reported details of the conversation, which were confirmed by two people who were briefed on the discussion.

Because Democrats hold the Senate by a simple 50-50 majority, Mr Manchin has been able to effectively veto the domestic package that the party had planned to move during a special fast-track budget process that would allow bypassing a filibuster and passing by simple majority. With Democrats preparing for losses in the midterm elections this fall, the package could be the party’s last chance to pass significant spending and tax legislation while still holding the White House and both congressmen.

By rejecting all climate and energy regulations, Mr Manchin appeared to have, on his own, crushed Mr Biden’s ambitious climate agenda and what would have been the largest single federal investment in US history towards tackling climate change.

His decision came days after a report showed prices rose to 9.1 percent in June, exacerbating existing fears of inflation and rising costs for ordinary Americans. But while Mr Manchin has long sounded the alarm about inflation and national debt, he had also maintained openness to revising tax legislation, an attitude he seemed to have reversed.

It astonished Democratic officials who had worked to win Mr Manchin’s vote. As recently as Friday, Democrats said they had agreed on a plan to use the funds from raising taxes on some high-income Americans to extend the solvency of a major Medicare fund.

But it was especially devastating for those who had fought for climate and energy regulations. In calls to various climate activists Thursday night, Mr Schumer and his staff sounded shocked and said they believed until just a few hours before an agreement was still possible, said a person who spoke to Mr Schumer.

Without action from Congress, it will be impossible to meet Mr. Biden’s goal of halving U.S. emissions by the end of this decade. That goal was intended to hold climate stable at about 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming compared to pre-industrial levels.

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

“I do not intend to substantiate my disappointment here, especially as 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 can not return in another decade and prevent hundreds of billions – if not trillions – of economic damage and abolish the inevitable human tax.”

“If we cannot move forward as we had hoped, we need to save as much of this package as possible,” he added. “The notion that failure is not an option is overused, but failure is really not an option here.”

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

“The stakes are so high,” she said. “It’s just annoying that he condemns our own children.”

Many hissed with anger at Mr. Manchin. They criticized him for dragging dealers along while diluting a package that at some point would have been enough to put a steep dent in emissions and also add fossil fuel projects that cut against climate goals. In the last days of the negotiations, the tax cuts for clean energy had been cut, and Mr. Manchin had worked to include approval of offshore oil and gas leasing and permission for a fossil fuel project in his state, congressional aides said.

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

“There really are no words, at least words that are suitable for print in The New York Times, for how shaken and outraged we are,” she said.

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