In a surprising turn of events that will warm White House hearts, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reversed course Wednesday and threw his support behind a sweeping Senate package for spending and climate action.
The moderate senator, along with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), announced the agreement on health care and climate issues, tax hikes on high earners and corporations, and federal debt reduction.
The change of heart comes only hours after many Democrats said they expected to be forced to settle for a very narrow package. No word immediately came as to how the agreement was reached, but it gives President Joe Biden and his party a much-needed victory.
Manchin’s support, which comes just ahead of the November midterms, all but assures passage of the negotiated results after months of wrangling.
His vote is critical in the evenly divided Senate, and more so against a solid wall of Republican opposition. With his endorsement, the wide-ranging and ambitious proposals are almost certain to make it to the president’s desk.
Biden was understandably elated by the news, though no doubt his enthusiasm was dampened by Thursday’s revelation that the economy shrank again in the second quarter. No amount of spin changes that benchmark for a recession, but Manchin’s turnaround buffered the news.
In a statement, the president said the breakthrough tackles “high healthcare costs and overall inflation.” He also credits it with investing in the nation’s future energy security.
He urged the Senate to take up the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — a misnomer if there ever was one — and, along with the House, get the package to the White House for his signature.
Polls nearly unanimously show that inflation is the number one concern on the minds of American voters. With gas prices pulling back from their record-high averages of over $5 per gallon, the significance of a legislative win may be huge for the administration.
It is highly doubtful that the package does everything the president and his supporters claim, but for them, anything is something at this point. Democrats are desperate to push anything through that they can hang their collective hats on before the midterms.
At least in their eyes, it’s better than nothing.