Oct. 27 (Reuters) – Democratic Senator Joe Manchin used his party’s slim majority in Congress to reshape President Joe Biden’s spending bill, slashing its original price by $ 3.5 trillion and blocking proposals policies on climate and social programs.
In a 50-50 Senate where all Republicans oppose the spending plan, Democrats can only pass it if each of their members signs and Vice President Kamala Harris votes to break the tie.
This means the party has no choice but to bow to Manchin’s will if it wants the bill to pass. He used that influence to take down key parts of the package.
Manchin is from West Virginia, a heavily Republican, sparsely populated coal and natural gas-producing state that sits at or near the bottom of U.S. rankings for health, education, and infrastructure.
Founder and part owner of a private coal brokerage firm, Enersystems, Manchin has been hesitant to curb fossil fuels, complicating Democrats’ efforts to tackle climate change.
He also opposed the expansion of many social programs. At the center of the political scene, Manchin laid out his philosophy this week with reporters, at the Economic Club of Washington and in the halls of Congress.
Here’s a list of the issues Manchin pushed back on Biden’s plans for.
FAMILY LEAVE WITH PAY AND CHILD CARE
Biden wanted to offer Americans 12 weeks of paid family leave for new parents, caregivers of sick family members and those with serious health conditions, compensating them up to $ 4,000 in wages per month.
Manchin signaled he opposed the measure, forcing Democrats to consider reducing it to four weeks or removing it altogether. It would be a big blow to Biden.
When asked on Tuesday if he was concerned about the paid leave proposal, Manchin said: “I am concerned about a lot of things.”
It supports a push for universal pre-kindergarten education. “I’m for pre-K. Either way, “he said Monday night.” We can do that. “He said he lobbied church groups to provide child care as well.
Manchin said he told Biden: “I think the government should be your partner and not your supplier.”
EXPANSION OF MEDICINE CARE
Democrats want to expand the Medicare health care program for the elderly to cover dental, hearing and vision care, and also extend Medicare-type insurance benefits to low-income people in states that do not have expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Manchin opposes both measures, saying the federal government cannot afford to provide additional benefits like dental care and Medicare risks insolvency by 2026, even without the additional benefits.
“You have to stabilize that first before you essentially consider the expansion. So if we’re not financially responsible, that’s a concern,” Manchin said.
CLEAN ELECTRICITY PERFORMANCE PROGRAM
Democrats wanted to reward electric utilities for investing in renewables like wind and solar and fining those who don’t. This was seen as essential for Biden to meet his goal of cutting US emissions by around 50% by 2030.
Manchin rescinded the proposal, arguing it would unfairly punish utility companies that are already making the transition. It would also help move power plants away from coal, a major industry in West Virginia.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that we take billions of dollars and pay utilities for what they’re going to do as the market shifts,” Manchin told CNN in September.
Manchin also opposes a proposal to tax US oil and gas producers for methane emissions above a certain threshold.
The greenhouse gas, methane, is considered to be the main cause of climate change after carbon dioxide.
STRENGTHENING THE IRS APPLICATION
Manchin criticized a proposal to force banks to report more account information to the Internal Revenue Service, complicating Democrats’ efforts to strengthen high-income tax enforcement to collect hundreds of dollars. billion dollars for their social spending bill.
The Democratic proposal would require banks to report to the IRS all accounts that have activity over $ 10,000 per year, excluding salaries.
Manchin said on Tuesday he believed the proposal would not go through. “Do you understand how fucked up this is?” He said he told Biden. “It can’t happen. Damn it.
ADDITIONAL FINANCING FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Manchin backed a measure in a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill that would provide $ 7.5 billion to help build a nationwide charging network for electric vehicles.
But he now says enough is enough, potentially dashing Democratic hopes of providing billions more in funding.
“I said I had a hard time with it. I don’t remember the federal government gas stations when Henry Ford invented the Model T, ”Manchin said on Tuesday.
Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw and Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney
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