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Manchin says inflation concerns led to impasse on latest Build Back Better talks

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he wants to put off decisions about major aspects of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better policies until there’s more clarity on whether historic levels of inflation continue over the next month or so.

Speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Manchin said his position is not to spike the remaining policies of Build Back Better, but instead to put off deciding until the next national report on inflation levels. A report this week showed that inflation on U.S. goods over the past 12 months has risen by a historic 9.1 percent.

“Inflation is absolutely killing many, many people. They can’t buy gasoline. They have a hard time buying groceries. Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a hardship to them. Can’t we wait to make sure we do nothing to add to that?

“I can’t make that decision on taxes of any type and also on the energy and climate — because it takes the taxes to pay for the investment in clean technology that I’m in favor of. I’m not going to do something and overreach that causes more problems.”

Manchin said he has agreed to go ahead with aspects of Build Back Better extending subsidies under the Affordable Care Act for two years, along with a Medicare prescription drug provision. He wants to put off decisions on tax and energy policies, deficit reduction and other policies.

Today Manchin said he told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, “Chuck, if you’re on a political deadline and it has to be done in July, the one thing you know you can get done is, basically, do the bill — run the piece of legislation — on reducing drug prices, letting Medicare negotiate.

“That saves about $288 billion over 10 years. Take $40 billion of that and extend the Affordable Care Act, the discounts that people are getting, so their premiums won’t go up. And also take the other $240 billion and put it to debt reduction.”

Manchin, speaking today, speculated that Schumer interpreted that as a no.

“I don’t know why they did that. I guess to try to put pressure on me. But they’ve been doing that for over a year now. It doesn’t make any sense at all,” Manchin said. “As far as I’m concerned, I want climate. I want an energy policy.”

Manchin has long been a focal point of negotiations on Build Back Better. Last December, after months of negotiations, Manchin went on Fox News Sunday and declared “I can’t get there.”

At the time, Manchin cited inflation as part of his objection to a framework that was even broader than it is now. Since it was first introduced conceptually, Build Back Better has been whittled way back.

Earlier this week, when the monthly release of the Consumer Price Index revealed historic annual levels of inflation for products like food and fuel, a statement by Manchin seemed to express concern over whether policies like Build Back Better might compound the problem.

“No matter what spending aspirations some in Congress may have, it is clear to anyone who visits a grocery store or a gas station that we cannot add any more fuel to this inflation fire,” Manchin stated earlier this week.

Today, the senator said he is willing to continue talks about the tax and climate aspects of the policy framework but wants to see the next inflation report.

“As far as I’m concerned we’ve had good conversations, we’ve had good negotiations. Our staffs have been working diligently for the past two or three months,” Manchin said.

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