Sen. Joe Manchin III, a key swing vote for the White House’s agenda, is pushing Democrats to modify climate change provisions in President Biden’s mammoth social welfare bill.
Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, met Tuesday with Senate Majority Charles E. Schumer to discuss the bill. A particular area of concern is the package’s climate change provisions, which would affect jobs in Mr. Manchin’s coal and natural gas-producing state.
“The different energy stuff is what we mostly talked about,” Mr. Manchin said. “Just basically looking at different things that we agree [on] and adjustments that need to be made.”
Earlier this month, Mr. Manchin expressed skepticism about two provisions in the package: a fee on methane emissions and a tax credit for electric vehicles made in union plants.
The fee on methane, a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas that is the primary component in natural gas, is seen as a non-starter for Mr. Manchin. West Virginia is currently the eighth largest natural gas producer in the U.S.
Republicans also say the fee would function as a tax on everyday Americans and cause home heating bills to spike.
“Home heating costs are rising by as much as 54% this winter,” said Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. “Biden’s response [is] pushing a home heating tax in Build Back Broke that will increase prices even more.”
As chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, Mr. Manchin is increasingly receptive to such arguments. Not only has the senator urged the White House to address skyrocketing energy costs, but he’s also urged Democrats to take inflation seriously.
Similarly, Mr. Manchin has raised concerns about Mr. Biden’s proposal to provide upwards of $12,000 in tax credits to consumers who purchase an electric vehicle made at a union plant. The credit is $4,500 more than consumers purchasing electric vehicles from non-union-run plants would be eligible to receive.
“We should not use everyone’s tax dollars to pick winners and losers,” Mr. Manchin recently told Automotive News, an auto industry trade publication.
Since Democrats planned to push the spending package along party lines in the 50-50 split Senate, Mr. Manchin’s opposition effectively kills both proposals.
That reality has progressive Democrats chafing, especially since Mr. Manchin already has used his clout to strip other climate change provisions from the bill, including a carbon tax and a clean electricity standard.
“I mean god bless Joe Manchin but how many months does this go on,” said Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat. “I told him a month ago, ‘For god sake Joe, declare victory and close the deal.’”