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As Democrats prepare to push their tax and social spending bill through a party-line budget reconciliation process, one of its main sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin, says he thinks Republicans should be on board. .
Manchin, DW.Va., struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., on the legislation last week, which would spend $433 billion and raise $739 billion in tax revenue, according to the Democrats.
It is unclear whether the bill will pass with the support of all 50 Democrats. But Republicans are on board with the argument, arguing it amounts to reckless taxing and spending during a recession.
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Manchin, however, says they are blinded by partisanship and would agree to the bill if Congress weren’t so polarized.
“What I talk to my Republican friends about, they always want to make sure — we just have to have more energy. Well, guess what? We’re going to have a lot more,” Manchin told Fox News Digital Thursday. . “We’re going to do a lot more drilling … We’re going to build some more natural gas lines to get the energy. And we’re going to invest in the future, energy for the future.”
“They always say, ‘well, we want to pay off the debt.’ Well, we’re paying $300 billion for the first time in 25 years,” Manchin added. “And then they say, ‘you know what, we just need to change the licensing processes so we can do things faster and better in America.’ That’s what we’re doing.”
Manchin’s bill is the offspring of more than a year of negotiations on legislation originally called “Build Back Better.” Now titled the Inflation Reduction Act, it has been scaled back massively from the original $3 trillion reconciliation proposals.
The legislation includes provisions on fossil fuel energy, climate and green energy, prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act and the tax code. Manchin’s deal with Schumer also included a promise from top congressional Democrats to pass oil-allowing reform before the end of September.
Republicans, meanwhile, say the bill will hurt the economy and middle-class families as the United States slips into recession. Figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation are cited which show that almost every income bracket will feel the brunt of the new taxes, albeit indirectly. And they say the taxes will disproportionately hurt manufacturers, just as Congress passed legislation aimed at boosting U.S. semiconductor chip manufacturing.
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“The people who work for these companies – and remember that half will go to the manufacturers – will see their wages and benefits cut because of this tax at a time when they are having a very hard time keeping up with current inflation,” Sen. Rob Portman. R-Ohio, said at a news conference Wednesday
Manchin’s comments about Republicans come as he is still trying to get all Democrats on board with his legislation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is the most high-profile detainee in the bill.
A spokesperson for Cinema’s office told Fox News Digital that the senator is waiting for the Byrd Bath process to be completed before making a decision on the bill. A Byrd Bath is when a member of the Senate reviews legislation to ensure that all of its provisions comply with the Byrd Rule, which governs reconciliation bills. It requires elements of the bill to be fiscal in nature and not purely policy matters.
Sinema and Manchin spoke to each other at length on the Senate floor Thursday.
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Also remaining is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. He said Thursday that he has not decided on the bill, and will also wait until Byrd Bath is finished.
Schumer announced Thursday that the Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote to begin debating the reconciliation bill Saturday afternoon. That probably means he expects the Bird Bath process to be over by then. It also sets a deadline for any undecideds – particularly Sinema – to decide whether to support the legislation.
“I certainly hope so, you always hope so,” Manchin said when asked by Fox News Digital if Democrats would have the bill ready for a vote by Saturday. “I always hope for the best, let’s put it this way.”