Joe Manchin says budget reconciliation bill ‘needs to be scrubbed’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), notably one of the most centric Democrats in the Senate, has hit pause on his support for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his budget reconciliation bill.

According to a report by The Hill, Manchin said that the bill “needs to be scrubbed much better” following news that inflation hit 9.1 percent in June, which makes it a several-decade high.

The prescription medication reform portion of the plan, which has already been forwarded to the Senate parliamentarian’s office and has the support of all 50 members of the Democratic caucus, is what Manchin told reporters on Wednesday he’s not sure if he can agree to.

“We know what we can pass is basically the drug pricing, OK, on Medicare,” he told reporters. “Is there any more we can do? I don’t know, but I am very, very cautious. And I’m going to make sure that I have every input on scrubbing everything humanly possible that could be considered inflammatory,” he said.

The lawmaker went on to say that “deficit reduction is going to be 50 percent” of the new revenue gained from prescription drug savings and tax reforms, including possibly a 3.8 percent tax on some of the most wealthy in the country who make $400,000 or $500,000, for individuals or couples: “Basically, take your time and make sure we do it and do it right. We can’t afford mistakes in the highest inflation we’ve seen in the last 40 years,” he said.

Manchin has argued that September 30—the conclusion of the fiscal year—should be the deadline instead of the August recess, as had been suggested by other Democrats.

Manchin would not, however, rule out incorporating a clause that would extend the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for health insurance plans, saying that whether he would support them would depend on how they were written and funded: “It depends on if we can look at things and find a pathway forward that is not inflammatory,” he said.

However, the West Virginia senator also made clear that he is more likely to keep the bill’s spending as restrained as possible in order to prevent further igniting an already overheated economy.

“Anything that can be inflationary right now with 9.1 percent should be a red herring because we cannot inflame this inflationary position we have right now with the hardship it has on everybody in the country, especially in my state,” he said.