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Friday, December 09, 2022

Munchkin Biden’s plan staggered, Democrats vow to move on

Munchkin Biden's plan staggered, Democrats vow to move on

By Lisa Mascaro and Farnosh Amiri

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday backed President Joe Biden’s broad $1.75 trillion domestic policy proposal, saying instead it was “vote time” on a slimmer $1 trillion infrastructure package that stalled amid talks. has gone.

The West Virginia Democrat’s announcement comes as Democrats want indications from Munchkin that he will support Biden’s big package. He is one of two key holdout senators whose votes are needed to secure the deal and push it toward passage.

Instead, Munchkin rebuked progressive Democrats, urging them to “hold” the small public works bill “hostage” as talks on a comprehensive package continue.

“It’s done,” Manchin said in a hastily called press conference at the Capitol.

Munchkin said he was ready to vote for the final bill depicting Biden’s big package “that moves our country forward.” But he said he is “equally open to voting” against the final product as he assesses the broader social services and climate change bill.

Democrats are working fiercely to finish Biden’s signed domestic package after months of talks, in the race for the first round of a House vote later this week.

The White House swiftly responded that it believed Munchkin would support Biden’s plan, and congressional leaders indicated that votes were on track as planned.

“Senator Manchin says he stands ready to support a Build Back Better plan that combats inflation, is financially responsible, and will create jobs,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “As a result, we are confident that the plan will have the support of Senator Munchkin.”

The stakes are high with Biden overseas at the global climate change summit and his party fighting this week in the race for two major governors – in Virginia and New Jersey – seen as bells in the political mood of voters.

With staunch opposition from Republicans and no votes to spare, Democrats are trying to unite progressive and centrist lawmakers around Biden’s larger vision.

Progressives are refusing to vote on the smaller public works bill, using it as leverage as they try to win over commitments to Biden’s broader bill from Munchkin and Arizona’s Democratic Sen. Kirsten Cinema, among other major holdouts. We do.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Progressive Caucus, D-Wash, indicated that her group is ready to move and pass both bills in the House this week. She said she believed Biden would need support for a final Senate passage.

“I would urge everyone to exercise restraint,” Jayapal told CNN. We are preparing for the passage of both the bills included in the agenda of the President.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer both echoed the White House, suggesting the bills are on track.

Munchkin, however, said in direct response to the progressives’ strategy, “Holding this bill hostage will not serve to gain my support” widely. He said he would “not support this consequential bill” without fully understanding the impact on the economy and the federal debt.

Munchkin’s priority has long been small public works bills of roads, highways and broadband projects that were already approved by the Senate but are being stalled by House progressives as wider negotiations go on.

“This is not how the United States Congress should operate,” Manchin said. “The time has come for our elected leaders in Washington to stop playing the game.”

Biden’s top domestic priorities have been a battleground between progressive and moderate Democrats for months, and it was unclear if the timetable for early House votes this week could be met.

A $1.75 trillion package is within reach, and it will provide assistance to a large number of Americans with access to health care, education, raising children, and caring for the elderly in their homes. It would provide some $555 billion in tax breaks encouraging clean energy and electrified vehicles, the nation’s biggest commitment to combat climate change.

Most of its costs will be covered with higher taxes on people and large corporations earning more than $10 million a year, which will now face a 15% minimum tax in an effort to prevent large businesses from claiming such deductions that they Pay zero in taxes.

Two congressional aides said Sunday that over the weekend, Democrats made significant progress toward adding provisions that would largely curb drug prices. He requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing talks.

One proposal under discussion would let Medicare negotiate lower prices with drug companies for many of its products, according to a senior Democratic aide. Those would not include drugs for which the Food and Drug Administration has provided initial protection against competition, duration which varies but lasts several years.

There will be a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs under Medicare Part D, the program’s outpatient prescription drug benefit, said the senior aide, who did not provide a figure. And drug makers will have to pay rebates if their prices rise above certain markers.

Negotiations were on and no final settlement was reached. But the movement raised hopes that the party’s 10-year, $1.75 trillion measure would undercut a long-standing Democratic campaign promise to lower drug costs, albeit more modestly than some people have thought.

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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