Sen. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he won't support a Democrat proposal for new climate change spending and higher taxes for corporations and wealthier Americans.
Manchin, a key Democrat swing vote in the Senate, stymied earlier attempts to pass President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" legislation over concerns about the deficit and inflation.
Manchin signaled unease with the negotiations on Wednesday, saying the latest inflation figures left him feeling "more cautious than I’ve ever been" about agreeing to a package that could fuel further inflation increases.
The New York Times report called Manchin's Thursday decision a "crushing blow to President Biden's domestic agenda."
Manchin's demands leave the measure's future unclear, seemingly upending the hopes of Biden and Democrat leaders for a more sweeping package they could push through Congress by August, ahead of the midterm elections. That would have let them show Democrat voters that they were addressing a range of party priorities like curbing climate change and taxing the rich and draw a contrast with Republicans, who are expected to oppose the legislation unanimously.
Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon issued a statement that reiterated the senator’s assertions that he did not want any measure that emerged to worsen the consumer cost of living. The government reported this week that inflation last month reached an annual level of 9.1%, the highest figure in four decades.
"Senator Manchin believes it's time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire," Runyon said.
The senator told Democrat leaders he was open to reducing prescription drug prices for seniors and extending subsidies that help keep health insurance costs lower, according to The Washington Post, which broke the news citing two unidentified people familiar with the matter.
A representative for Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
This report contains material from Reuters and The Associated Press.
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