Update (1118ET): Manchin reiterated on Tuesday morning that he's not in favor of a carbon tax, and that he wasts the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed first.
Manchin tells a group of us he’s NOT in favor of a carbon tax. And that’s not being discussed right now. Says he wants infrastructure billl passed and talks ongoing— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 19, 2021
Manchin: “a carbon tax is not on the board right now”— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) October 19, 2021
Meanwhile, Sinema was spotted earlier in the day arriving at the White House to meet with President Joe Biden.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema arrived at the White House moments ago to meet with the President (spotted by @Kevinliptakcnn). As @Phil_Mattingly lays out this morning, it's time to close the deal: https://t.co/EMR1npEtcQ pic.twitter.com/Y4DxQoAYM5— Betsy Klein (@betsy_klein) October 19, 2021
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In what's being framed as some 'new development' in the standoff between moderate and progressive Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s refusal to back the centerpiece of President Biden's climate agenda 'puts the Democrats' entire infrastructure and social spending agenda at risk,' as The Hill describes it.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) two-track strategy for passing Biden’s agenda was based on the expectation that Manchin would give ground to progressives in exchange for their support of the hard infrastructure bill that he and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) negotiated with Republicans.
But Manchin’s infrastructure bill, including billions of dollars in new money for West Virginia’s needs — such as the Appalachian Development Highway System — has passed the Senate and he’s still not signing on to the climate investments that are a key demand of progressive Democrats.
His staunch opposition to a $150 billion clean electricity plan that was supposed to be the backbone of Biden’s transition to clean energy puts what was supposed to be a grand bargain between moderate and progressive Democrats in danger.
But wait - this isn't some new bombshell Manchin just dropped on his fellow Democrats to kill Biden's gargantuan spending bill - it's what he's been saying all along - and gave no indication he'd waver on. This 'grand bargain' and 'expectation that Manchin would give ground' was always implied.
As Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman notes: "Manchin isn’t changing, really. he’s had these long-held positions for months and has been saying them."
Here’s what he’s been saying consistently since the summer— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 19, 2021
He isn’t willing to spend much more than $1.5 trillion.
He believes vital programs like Medicare and Social Security are in danger of insolvency and wants to save them rather than expanding them.
Manchin isn’t changing, really. he’s had these long-held positions for months and has been saying them.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 19, 2021
A lot of people in town have decided to ignore what Manchin says and believe he has a hidden set of priorities he’s waiting to unveil.
And of course, without Manchin - and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), Democratic leaders won't be able to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that advanced from the Senate months ago - yet which progressive Democrats refuse to let pass without the $3.5 trillion 'social spending package' that Manchin refuses to support without significant cutbacks.
Progressives led by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have warned for months they would not support a massive budget reconciliation package if it did not include bold reforms to cut carbon emissions.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have a deal and it’s going to be good enough on climate or it won’t go,” Whitehouse said last month.
Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is now warning she won’t support the reconciliation bill unless it includes major environmental reform.
The Build Back Better budget must meaningfully address climate change. I’m open to different approaches, but I cannot support a bill that won’t get us where we need to be on emissions. There are 50 Democratic senators. Every one of us is needed get this passed, she tweeted -The Hill
"The longer we wait, the less likely that we’re going to produce a product that the American people are anxious to receive," warned Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban (IL), noting that his colleagues are feeling "anxious," while expressing dismay that Manchin won't support the climate proposals. "I support the clean electricity approach and I’m sorry that Sen. Manchin’s opposed to it."
Durbin admitted that a failure to include climate legislation would be considered a 'major failure.'
Manchin, meanwhile, defended himself from accusations that he's the lone reason Democrats can't pass their bills.
"There are 52 senators who don’t agree, OK? And there are 52 senators who don’t agree, and there are two who want to work something out if possible, in the most rational, reasonable way," he said, while also raising doubts about an Oct. 31 deadline for a deal - telling reporters "I don't know how that would happen."
Again, this is nothing new, as Manchin has been steadfast in his opposition to what he views as reckless spending.