After the clash, Manchin and Schumer rushed to restore the tax and climate deal

WASHINGTON — Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-West Virginia, were both nursing resentments when they met secretly in a windowless room in the Capitol basement last Monday to trying to save a climate package that was a key piece of his party’s agenda.

Mr. Schumer was dismayed that Mr. Manchin had said he wasn’t ready to make the deal this summer, and he may never be. Mr. Manchin was frustrated that Democrats had spent days publicly vilifying him for single-handedly torpedoing his agenda.

“Are you still upset?” Mr. Manchin asked Mr. Schumer as aides walked the corridors outside to make sure the attempted truce was not caught by other senators or reporters.

It was the start of a frantic and improbable effort by a small group of Democrats, carried out over 10 days and in total secrecy, that succeeded this week in reviving the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic policy plan and offer the prospect of a big victory for his party months before midterm congressional elections.

The talks were driven by major concessions made to Mr. Manchin, who demanded fewer tax increases, more fossil fuel development and benefits for his home state. They also featured appeals to his pride from fellow Democrats, reassurance from a former Treasury secretary that the package would not increase inflation, and many Zoom calls between Mr. Schumer, who had just recovered from a case of the coronavirus, and Mr. Manchin. , which tested positive while negotiations were underway.

Now, Mr. Manchin and Mr. Schumer is working to rally her party around her pledge, presented in a surprise announcement Wednesday. It would earmark $369 billion for climate and energy programs, as well as raise taxes on corporations and high earners, while lowering the cost of prescription drugs, expanding health care subsidies and reducing the deficit.

The abrupt announcement of a deal suggested a potential reversal of fortune for Mr. Biden and Democrats, who had resigned themselves to the demise of the climate, energy and tax package. They had been preparing to move forward with a combination of a reduced prescription drug price measure with an extension of expanded health care subsidies.

“This could very well, could not have happened at all,” declared Mr. Manchin Thursday morning in an interview with West Virginia radio host Hoppy Kercheval. “It could have gone absolutely sideways, so I had to see if we can make this work.”

If passed by both chambers in the coming weeks, the measure would fulfill longstanding Democratic promises to address rising health care costs and tax the wealthy, as well as provide the largest investment to fight change climate in the history of the United States.

“The work of government can be slow and frustrating and sometimes even infuriating,” Biden said at the White House, where he applauded the deal. “Then the hard work of hours, days and months of people who refuse to give up pays off. History is made. Lives have changed.”

Understand what happened to Biden’s domestic agenda

Card 1 of 7

“Build back better.” Before being elected president in 2020, Joseph R. Biden Jr. articulated his ambitious vision for his administration under the slogan “Build Back Better,” pledging to invest in clean energy and ensure that shopping spending goes to American-made products.

A two-part agenda. March and April 2021: President Biden unveiled two plans that together formed the core of his national agenda: the infrastructure-focused American Jobs Plan and the Plan for American Families , which included a variety of social policy initiatives.

The Law of Investment in Infrastructures and Employment. November 15, 2021: President Biden signs a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, the result of months of negotiations. The president praised the package, a scaled-down version of what had been outlined in the American Jobs Plan, as proof that US lawmakers could still work across party lines.

A surprise deal. July 28, 2022: In a reversal, Mr. Manchin said he had agreed to a deal to include hundreds of billions of dollars for climate and energy programs and tax increases in a package to subsidize health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs. The climate proposals in the package would be the most ambitious climate action ever taken by Congress.

When members called Mr. Schumer to congratulate him on the deal, the New York Democrat quoted his father, who died last year: “As my late father said: You have to persevere, God will reward you.”

But the success of the package was not assured.

In a private meeting with Democrats Thursday morning, Mr. Schumer began laying the groundwork for what promises to be an arduous process to steer the compromise through the evenly divided Senate. The task is made more difficult by the chamber’s arcane rules, Democrats’ slim majority and the rise of the coronavirus among senators.

Democrats planned to advance the bill through a fast-track process known as reconciliation that shields certain spending and tax measures from a filibuster, avoiding strong Republican opposition. But they will still need the unanimous support of their party members, which was not yet guaranteed.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has also resisted her party’s domestic policy package, skipped Thursday’s meeting with Mr. Schumer and did not comment on the bill or indicate whether he planned to support it. He sent a spokeswoman to say he was reviewing the text and waiting to hear whether it complied with Senate rules.

Even if it can win approval in the Senate, the measure would also have to pass in the House, where Democrats can spare only a few votes against likely unanimous Republican opposition.

Republicans were furious at news of the deal. In the Senate, they suggested that Democrats had tricked them into supporting a major industrial policy bill designed to strengthen American competitiveness with China. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, said his party would not support the bill as long as Democrats continue to push for a reconciliation bill.

The deal was announced just hours after that bill passed, and House Republican leaders instructed their base to oppose it in return.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, charged that Mr. Manchin had made an “Olympic flip-flop” on the reconciliation package.

On Thursday, Democrats were still working through the details of the bill.

The critical concessions that eventually won the support of Mr. Manchin included eliminating billions of dollars worth of tax increases that he opposed. It also won a commitment from Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders to enact legislation to streamline the permitting process for energy infrastructure. That could pave the way for a shale gas pipeline project in West Virginia in which Mr. Manchin has taken a personal interest.

While its climate goals are ambitious, the package also has benefits for the fossil fuel industry, including new sales of oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet. It ties federal renewable energy development to fossil fuels, forcing the Interior Department to hold oil lease sales if it wants to auction wind or solar. That flies in the face of Mr. Biden’s campaign goal of ending new drilling leases on federal lands and waters.

There is also a proposal that permanently extends a tax designed to help provide benefits to coal miners suffering from black lung disease and their beneficiaries, a major problem for West Virginia, one of the nation’s top coal-producing states.

It includes a proposal to change preferential tax treatment for income earned by venture capitalists, although Ms. Sinema has opposed this provision in the past.

The deal came together exactly one year after Mr. Manchin signed a secret agreement with Mr. Schumer laying out what he would need in exchange for supporting any spending and tax plan.

For more than a year, Mr. Manchin has been at the center of his party’s efforts to push through sweeping domestic policy legislation while still controlling Washington, wielding his influence as a conservative Democrat in an equally divided Senate. It is a place where his party can rarely spare a defection.

For months, he refused to accept his party’s landmark domestic policy bill and in December rejected a $2.2 trillion version in total, leaving many lawmakers and aides wary as talks returned to to resume quietly this spring.

When Mr. Manchin suggested to Mr. Schumer this month that even a more tailored package of new climate spending and tax proposals would have to wait until new inflation numbers are released in early August, many Democrats publicly criticized Mr. possibility to put your plan into practice.

But a few centrist allies, including Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, tried a different approach.

They refrained from openly criticizing Mr. Manchin, instead appealing to his sense of history and his zeal to play a prominent role in forging a high-stakes legislative deal.

They encouraged Mr. Manchin to remain at the table, telling him, said Mr. Coons in an interview, that “he had the opportunity to prove all his critics wrong and that he had the opportunity to genuinely shape our history in a way that ensures energy independence and a transition to to a cleaner energy economy”.

“He was really beating himself up, and there was a risk that he would go all the way, he didn’t,” said Mr. Coons. “Credit for his persistence and commitment goes to him and him alone.”

In recent days, Mr. Manchin also spoke to outside experts, including Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, as he tried to make sure the bill would not increase inflation.

Democrats seemed elated by the…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *