Politics

‘This Is An American Bill’: Joe Manchin Defends New Reconciliation Package

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin defended his decision to support a likely party-line reconciliation package during a Thursday press call, claiming that the bill would combat inflation and promote American energy independence.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, announced Wednesday, creates a corporate minimum tax rate of 15% for billion-dollar corporations, pays $300 billion against the federal deficit, and creates prescription drug price caps. The legislation also includes nearly $370 billion in green energy subsidies and tax credits. The Internal Revenue Service would receive nearly $79 million to increase tax enforcement and hire new agents.

“This is not a Democrat bill, this is not a Republican bill, this is an American bill,” Manchin told reporters.  “In normal rational times, this would have been a bipartisan bill.” (RELATED: Manchin Suggests He Won’t Back Infrastructure Bill Without Bipartisan Support From Republicans)

Despite Manchin’s hopes, the bill is not expected to receive significant Republican support. In addition, fellow Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema objected in 2021 to any tax increases. In addition to the raised corporate rate, Manchin’s bill eliminates a provision of the tax code that allows some Wall Street executives to treat portions of their salaries as investment gains.

“What we have is a good bill that is fair to everyone. It’s not my way or the highway but my goodness. I think that the people who have benefited from carried-interest for years know they’ve had a good run,” Manchin said of the provision and Sinema’s potential opposition.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 14: Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee ranking member Sen. Kyrsten Sinema questions witnesses during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on May 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Manchin acknowledged the left-wing protest campaign he faced throughout 2021 as he negotiated and objected to various provisions of the Build Back Better package. Activists kayaked up to his boat in October 2021, demanding he support Build Back Better. Another group of protesters followed Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University.

“No one in their right mind would go through the protests and harassment that I went through,” he said. (RELATED: ‘We Want To Live!’: Climate Activists Confront, Heckle Joe Manchin)

Manchin added that the climate provisions were made necessary by the Biden administration’s attempt to secure oil from Venezuela and Iran. He claimed that the bill will not require the phasing out of fossil fuels, only creating a tax credit up to $7,500 for electric vehicle purchases. It reinstates an offshore oil and gas lease that the Biden administration tried to block, and requires three more lease auctions. At the same time, the legislation raises the royalty for energy production on federal lands.

“I just felt that there was an opportunity here to give us an energy policy with the security that we need for our nation, but also drive down the prices, the high prices, of gasoline,” he said. “Energy security and climate are where we truly have two paths. We have a robust energy for our fossils, so we have a clear pathway that we can basically compete, be energy independent, not depending on foreign nations for our energy supplies that we need right now, and be able to backfill our allies, especially in Europe.”

“Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. I was never for that,” Manchin continued of the Build Back Better plan’s approach to fossil fuels. At the same time, he expressed concern about the inputs for green energy technologies.

Xi Jinping “has a noose around our neck with critical minerals,” Manchin explained.

Manchin also pushed back on horse-race coverage of the legislation. He said that media coverage of his position on reconciliation was unfair, and that he had only expressed concern about inflation, not the idea of any package.

“I would respect it if they just print the facts,” he said of a New York Times report, claiming that his support for the new package is not a “reversal.”

“You shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve never walked away from anything in my life.”