You don’t see the word “giddy” much in the public prints these days, but it’s out there now holding hands with the word “surprise” after Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer came out of nowhere with a climate-tax deal everyone had assumed was dead. “Should it pass both chambers in the coming weeks,” reports The New York Times, “the measure would fulfill longstanding Democratic promises to address soaring health care costs and tax the rich, as well as provide the largest investment toward fighting climate change in American history.”
This was President Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act (BBB), which had been flayed to the bone by Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and a clot of corporate House Democrats in a months-long duck-and-dodge that left many hearts filled with hate. Mine was one: “I am so sick of writing about Sen. Joe Manchin,” I wrote back in December, “I want to bite myself until I forget he ever existed in the first place.”
However, today I am not the King of the Haters. I’m genuinely encouraged by the emergence of a deal that could substantively help address the ever-intensifying climate crisis. That “King of Haters” title falls to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose new personal anthem is the “loser horns” from The price is right. McConnell, like most Washington D.C. residents, was unaware that Chuck Schumer, Manchin, and 10 others had been meeting secretly to negotiate a rebirth of the BBB in some way. McConnell even retracted his previously stated opposition to a huge superconductor bill, allowing it pass the SenateWednesday. Minutes later, word of the Manchin/Schumer agreement was made public.
“Republicans are furious at Senator Joe Manchin,” reports HuffPost. “The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday announced a surprise deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to revive much of President Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda. ‘It was obviously a double-cross by Joe Manchin,’ Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) Posted on Fox News Wednesday evening. ‘Just two weeks ago, he said he wasn’t going to support a bill like this.’ So much for the love affair between Manchin and Republicans.”
The Republican fury manifested in a number strange and destructive ways. Despite the fact that the semiconductor bill passed the Senate, Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader, led the unsuccessful opposition in the House to it, despite its wide support. This was due to the Manchin deal.
Sen. Susan Collins has fretted (yes, she’s “concerned” again, folks) that the deal could imperilAs a defense against the possible Supreme Court vandalism, a bill was introduced to codify gay marital in Congress.
Perhaps most damaging was the vindictive knee-jerk Republican block of a bill to expand health care coverage for veterans who had been exposed to toxic “burn pits” during their service. The bill passed by a vote 85-14 before the Manchin/Schumer news, but it was defeated by 25 Republican votes after a simple procedural vote. The outrage was intense, especially from former lawmakers. Daily ShowJon Stewart, host of The Jon Stewart Show, has been a long-standing advocate for the health needs of veterans and first responders to the September 11th attacks.
“So ain’t this a b*tch?” saidStewart speaking at a Thursday news conference. “America’s heroes, who fought our wars, outside sweating their asses off, with oxygen battling all kinds of ailments, while these motherf**kers sit in the air conditioning walled off from any of it? They don’t have to hear it. They don’t have to see it. They don’t have to understand that these are human beings. Did you catch it? And if this is America First, then America is f**ked.”
As usual, the details of this new deal get lost in the politics. While this legislation does indeed enter new territory in addressing climate change, taxing wealthy people, and regulating prescription drug prices, there are many bugs in the bread. Sharon Zhang reports. Truthout:
The bill is named the Inflation Reduction ActIncludes roughly $433 billion in new spendingAccording to, $369 Billion of that is for climate-related energy proposals. a one page summary of the bill. That there are climate provisions at all is an improvement over Manchin’s supposed opposition to any and all climate spending, which aides and staffers thought was his position two weeks ago. New proposals by Manchin to expand oil & gas exploration on public lands could jeopardize the climate provisions.
Importantly, according to BloombergThe bill essentially locks the government into permitting new oil and gas leases for the next decadeThe bill requires that the Interior Department must first sell oil and gas leases to allow the Interior Department to grant new solar and wind rights on federal lands. This is a major caveat to the bill’s touted climate spending, undermining years of climate activists’ calls for President Joe Biden to end oil and gas lease sales and going against even conservative energy organizations’ recommendations for the country to stop all new fossil fuel projects or else completely miss the global goal of limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
… and then there’s this: “I was definitely happy. She is very courageous.”
That was Mitch McConnell. speaking one year ago yesterday about Kyrsten Sinema’s ultimately fatal opposition to Biden’s budget plan. Sinema left town a year and a half later without stating her position on this bill. Schumer intends to pass the bill via reconciliation in order to dodge the filibuster, which means all 50 Democrats plus Vice President Harris will need to vote ‘Yes.” There is no guarantee Sinema will do this, and many reasons to suspect she could blow the whole thing upWith another cheeky little thumbs-down curtseyShe did the same with the minimum wage hike.
Other threats to the Inflation Reduction Act include a clutch of conservative House Democrats who have bound themselves to the absolute defense of rich people’s money. Are they able to rescind the bill before the midterm elections?
Lastly, and not insignificantly: Democratic senators must be stop contracting COVIDThe meeting lasted long enough for everyone in the room to vote simultaneously.
It was a pleasure to see Mitch McConnell laugh at his own tactics. But, this bill is still weak and incomplete. The thing is far from done if Kyrsten Sinema, or a COVID-filled sneeze, impede it. On the eve of the midterms, Democrats are so starved for good press that they have run this “deal” across the sky in lights. If it fails — and I would not bet against Sinema being Sinema again — it will be a body blow that could secure an expected Republican rout.
It’s going to take two weeks.