Minutes after passing a bipartisan bill to increase US production of semiconductors, Senate Democrats announced that, believe it or not, conservative “Democratic” Senator Joe Manchin has agreed to pass a Democrats-only budget reconciliation bill that addresses some of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.
One cool thing about this is that evil Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said he wouldn’t support the semiconductor bill if Democrats tried to do any good Build Back Better stuff. So it appears the Democrats waited until right after the semiconductor bill passed to announce they were doing something Build Back Better-ish (i.e. good) after all. Maybe this will work out, assuming erratic “Democratic” Senator Krysten Sinema goes along, giving Senate Democrats the 50 votes they need (with Vice President Harris breaking the tie in the 50-50 Senate):
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Dear readers, have we ever told you how wise and handsome we’ve always found Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to be? No? Well it’s totally true, and senator, if you’re reading this, you would look especially good allowing the passage of climate legislation that will prevent our country from simultaneously burning and drowning.
In a surprise turn of events, Manchin and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced today that they struck a deal on a domestic-spending package that includes climate and energy programs and tax increases on the wealthy. This is a breakthrough after more than a year of negotiations that looked all but dead two weeks ago when Manchin abruptly announced he would not support any new climate spending, because he was just too concerned about inflation, you guys!!!
Manchin has been a thorn in the side of his Democratic colleagues, the main holdout on most of the progressive social policies the Biden administration had hoped to enact. In his somewhat-opaque statement, Manchin signaled support for climate and energy programs, as well as “adopting a tax policy that protects small businesses and working-class Americans while ensuring that large corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.” Is this the same Joe Manchin we have come to know and mostly-disdain? Could it be?
Well yes, it still mostly is the same old Joe. The bill agreed upon was titled the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 [eyes roll out of my head] and Manchin in his statement made sure to include a jab at the much more comprehensive Build Back Better, which he can now brag to his pals across the aisle about helping to kill. His statement also focuses mostly on inflation, and not the climate emergency or the many ills that Build Back Better was trying to treat. But for once I will resist dragging Joe’s ass too hard, because this bill is much better than the extremely-narrow drug-pricing package Dems were prepared to accept when it looked like Manchin was ready to walk away entirely last month.
And now that Fossil Fuel Joe is on board, the bill is much more likely to actually become law, and the bill is actually good [although we don’t know all the details yet].
The climate provisions in the proposed bill are the largest fiscal piece of it, to the tune of $369 billion, which is good. All aspects of the bill—the reduction in energy and health care costs, and the deficit reduction—are anti-inflationary, which is also good. The bill allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices and lowers ACA premiums, and closes a whole host of tax loopholes with increased funding to the IRS, all without any regressive, shit-eating spending cuts you’d normally expect Congress to include in a big budget bill. We’re not sure where his change of heart came from (was he visited by three ghosts when he had covid this week?) but we’re not questioning it.
Assuming Dems can pass the bill in the House and the Senate parliamentarian allows it to be approved with 51 votes (or 50 and a tie break from VP Harris) through the budget reconciliation process, this has a serious chance of becoming law as early as August. This would be a huge win for Democrats going into midterms, who will need every single win they can get. It will give them a concrete answer to voters rightly asking, “What have you done for me lately?”
The bill faces a number of hurdles before it can become law, but White House Joe has signed off on it in a statement, so we thank you, Senate Joe, for your begrudging cooperation at last. Kyrsten Sinema don’t even FUCKING think about it.