Sen. Joe Manchin is starting to make what he wants — or rather doesn’t want — in the massive Democratic social spending bill more clear, after expressing opposition to including a carbon tax on Tuesday.
Manchin (D.WV) shot down including the tax, which would put a fee on greenhouse gas emissions, asking “it is not on the board.”
“We’re not — the carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” Manchin said.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined Manchin in his opposition, saying he’s “not a big fan.”
“I’m not a big fan of the carbon tax. I just don’t think it works the way it was explained to me.”
Their opposition came one day after Manchin and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood shoulder to shoulder and smiling outside the Capitol.
“We’re talking,” Manchin said, a statement Sanders repeated. When asked if they would reach agreement on the final form of the budget reconciliation bill by this weekend, Sanders again stated: “We’re talking.”
On Tuesday, the Vermont Independent told reporters that there is a “growing understanding” that families around the country want “real change” after months of negotiations, calling now the time to “fish or cut bait.”
“I think the vast majority of the members of the caucus want to act and act quickly so I think you’re going to hear a lot of serious discussion within the next few days. And I hope very much that we’re going to have a piece of legislation that the working families of this country will be proud of,” Sanders added.
Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters the carbon tax was not discussed during a Tuesday afternoon meeting at the White House.
Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) have been in negotiations with Sanders and other progressive democrats for weeks over the price tag of the spending package.
The moderates have vowed to vote against the originally proposed $3.5 trillion package, while progressives, backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Biden, say that number was already a compromise.
Both Pelosi and Biden have conceded the final form of the bill will cost less than $3.5 trillion.
On Tuesday, leader of the House Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pramilla Jayapal (D-Wash.) vowed that Congress will be able to pass the budget reconciliation and delayed bipartisan infrastructure bill, but stopped short of saying when.
“We’re going to get them both done. We are going to get them done. It is a messy process. Democracy is not always easy. Negotiation is not always easy,” she said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” “There are differences. Everybody knows there are differences. We have to bridge them, and we got to come together because, at the end of the day, we have to deliver both these bills, the infrastructure bill and Build Back Better Act, to the president’s desk.”
As Democrats go back and forth on the price tag of the spending bill, they are also discussing what to include in the legislation. The party could finalize the framework as early as this week.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks “the clock is ticking and that’s what we’re pressing for this week.”
As Democrats look to move the needle on negotiations, Sanders, Manchin and Sinema are Schumer expected to engage in discussions on Biden’s agenda, The Hill first reported.