The US centrist lawmaker promotes his proposals on climate, taxes and health

A leading US centrist lawmaker, Senator Joe Manchin, on Sunday staunchly defended a legislative agreement he negotiated that would affect a range of policies on climate, health care, prescription drugs and taxation, saying that in “normal times” opposition would support it even though they are now lining up evenly against it.

Manchin told CNN’s “State of the Union” show that usually “my Republican colleagues would be in favor of something like this. We basically paid the debt, [which] that’s what they want. We have accelerated the authorizations [for more energy drilling], which is what they want. And we have increased energy production, which is what they want. We have done things that we should do together. “

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Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, has been arguing for more than a year with fellow Democrats in the Senate and the White House over President Joe Biden’s original $ 2 trillion social safety net and climate change legislation. But last week, amid the shock of Washington’s political world, Manchin agreed on a reduced $ 739 billion package after intense negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Calls for a total of $ 433 billion to be spent on combating climate change over the next few years by encouraging the purchase of electric vehicles even if further fossil fuel drilling would be allowed, extend the benefits of US health care to millions of Americans, allow government negotiations with pharmaceutical companies on drug pricing and force highly profitable companies to pay a minimal tax.

It would also reduce the US government’s chronic annual budget deficit by about $ 300 billion over a decade.

Senate Democrats, to strong protests from Republican lawmakers against any tax hike, hope to pass the legislation this week. But the path to approval in the politically divided Senate is not assured, with another centrist Democrat, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has yet to express an opinion on the legislation.

Democrats need all 50 of their votes in the House of 100 and the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to overcome the unanimous Republican opposition.

Manchin said the measure would help combat rising US consumer prices which rose at an annualized rate of 9.1% in June, the fastest pace in four decades. He rejected the claims of some Republicans that the measure is “inflammatory” and would add to inflation.

“How can it add flames to inflation fires right now if you’re paying off the debt?” He said. “This changes the whole landscape in America. This is good for America. “

“This is not a Democratic bill, not a Republican bill, but a red, white and blue bill,” Manchin said, referring to the colors of the American flag.

Republicans, however, are attacking Manchin’s proposal. If passed by Congress, the bill would give Biden a major legislative victory three months before the National Congress election in the middle of his four-year term in the White House, at a time when pollsters say Republicans are ready. to take control of the House of Republicans and perhaps the Senate.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told ABC’s “This Week” show that he thinks the minimum taxes proposed by Democrats on highly profitable companies that now pay nothing would encourage them “to move to Asia.”

On CNN, Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said, “It really looks like Joe Manchin has been taken to the laundry. This is a disaster. Our recession will increase, our inflation. I am really surprised that he has agreed to this ”.

Toomey said various provisions of the Manchin proposal “may feel good but will do nothing” to improve the US economy.

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