Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is waffling again on President Biden’s on-again-off-again economic plan.
The moderate kingmaker said Friday he doesn’t support including sweeping plans to address climate change or any tax increases on corporations or the wealthy, at least as long as inflation remains sky high.
Manchin’s stance, if he sticks to it, would make it next to impossible to enact any significant part of Biden’s environment and tax goals before the November midterm elections.
The pivotal lawmaker said he is now only open to supporting provisions curbing pharmaceutical prices, extending soon-to-expire federal health care subsidies and reducing federal deficits.
He says inflation, which clocked in at a 40-year high of 9.1% this month, is too high to consider other portions of the plan once known as Build Back Better.
Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday about his new stand, which effectively blew up delicate talks to cobble together a package that could reach $1 trillion over the next decade.
But just hours later, Manchin reversed course and said he could still change his mind again if inflation cools off in coming weeks.
“Let’s wait until that comes out so we know we’re going down the path that won’t be inflammatory to add more to inflation,” Manchin said Friday.
Biden said at a news conference in Saudi Arabia that he still hopes to pass the package.
“I wasn’t negotiating with Joe Manchin,” Biden said as he left the press conference.
Manchin can make or break any measure Democrats can produce in the evenly divided Senate.
Power expires on Oct. 1 for the so-called “reconciliation” process that lets Democrats push the legislation through the 50-50 Senate over solid GOP opposition with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
Manchin has already flip-flopped several time on Build Back Better. He spent months on talks for a $1.7 trillion compromise package before killing it late last year.