Politics: Basement talk, virtual handshake led to Manchin-Schumer deal

Manchin, Schumer in surprise deal on health, energy, taxes

  Manchin, Schumer in surprise deal on health, energy, taxes WASHINGTON (AP) — In a startling turnabout, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin announced an expansive agreement Wednesday that had eluded them for months addressing health care and climate, raising taxes on high earners and large corporations and reducing federal debt. The two Democrats said the Senate would vote on the wide-ranging measure next week, setting up President Joe Biden and Democrats for an unexpected victory in the runup to November elections in which their congressional control is in peril. A House vote would follow, perhaps later in August, with unanimous Republican opposition in both chambers seemingly certain.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin secreted themselves in a basement room at the Capitol.

FILE - Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 21, 2022. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin secreted themselves in a basement room at the Capitol. The two men had been wrestling for more than a year in long, failed rounds of start-and-stop negotiations over President Joe Biden's big rebuilding America package. But talks had jammed up — again. With the midterm elections near, control of Congress at stake, the president and his party were at the end of the line. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File): Congress Budget Manchin © Provided by Associated Press Congress Budget Manchin

The two men had been wrestling for more than a year in long, failed rounds of start-and-stop negotiations over President Joe Biden's big rebuilding America package. But talks had jammed up — again. With the midterm elections near, control of Congress at stake, the president and his party were at the end of the line.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about the expansive agreement reached with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that they had sought for months on health care, energy and climate issues, and taxes on higher earners and corporations, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) © Provided by Associated Press Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about the expansive agreement reached with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that they had sought for months on health care, energy and climate issues, and taxes on higher earners and corporations, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Just four days earlier, Manchin had issued his latest ultimatum: Either scale back the ambitious proposal by dropping the climate change provisions that were so important to Biden and his party, or wait until September to try to pass any bill at all, giving the economy's shocking 9.1% inflation a chance to cool.

Schumer rallies Democrats after surprise deal with Manchin

  Schumer rallies Democrats after surprise deal with Manchin WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Senate Democrats on Thursday they now have an opportunity to achieve two “hugely important” priorities on health care and climate change, if they stick together and approve a deal he brokered with hold-out Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Schumer spoke at a private caucus meeting after the startling turnaround over an expansive agreement he and Manchin struck that had eluded them for months. The Democratic leader's comments were relayed by a person familiar with the meeting at the Capitol complex and granted anonymity to discuss it.

With all avenues with his colleague exhausted, Schumer signaled to Biden they needed to do whatever they could before lawmakers left town for the summer break. From the White House, Biden had announced that it was time to make a deal.

And Manchin faced his own political pressures. Outraged colleagues openly criticized his tactics as insincere — whispering, even, that the West Virginia senator should have his gavel taken away as a committee chairman. The coal state conservative was being publicly singled out, shamed even, as the sole figure stopping help for a planet in peril.

FILE - Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to reporters outside the hearing room where he chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, at the Capitol in Washington, July 19, 2022. Manchin announced Wednesday, July 27, that he had reached an expansive agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer which had eluded them for months on health care costs, energy and climate issues, taxing higher earners and large corporations and reducing federal debt. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to reporters outside the hearing room where he chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, at the Capitol in Washington, July 19, 2022. Manchin announced Wednesday, July 27, that he had reached an expansive agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer which had eluded them for months on health care costs, energy and climate issues, taxing higher earners and large corporations and reducing federal debt. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Ahead of the basement meeting, Manchin put a new offer on the table.

Joe Manchin Made His Big Move Just Before His Senate Superpowers Expire

  Joe Manchin Made His Big Move Just Before His Senate Superpowers Expire With time running out on the clock on the Democrats’ domination of Congress, Joe Manchin shocked the Washington political world on Wednesday. After months of stymying Democrats’ efforts to pass the massive spending bill, Build Back Better—the West Virginia moderate Democratic senator agreed to salvage the deal, effectively making BBB an energy and healthcare bill. The political cognoscenti responded by saying “Holy s--t,” and wondering “why now?” and “what changed?”Manchin previously insisted the deal wasn’t dead, but said he would wait until the July inflation numbers were out before deciding (that data will be released next month).

Details were slim that Monday afternoon 10 days ago, but the size and scope shocked Schumer's team and, most importantly, included the commitment to vote by the August recess. This account is from several people familiar with the private conversations, and granted anonymity to discuss them.

The two men shook hands, and agreed to start talking — again.

“What a beautiful office," Schumer wondered aloud in the Capitol basement room. “Is it mine?”

It was.

What happened next was a weeklong negotiation, largely out of sight, to produce the $739 billion surprise package now headed for quick votes in Congress.

Biden praised the deal Thursday as a “godsend” for American families.

“This bill is far from perfect,” Biden said from the White House. “It's a compromise. But that's often how progress is made.”

He thanked Schumer and Manchin for the “extraordinary effort that it took to reach this result.”

Advocates praise Schumer-Manchin climate deal, despite a possible short-term bump in oil, gas leases

  Advocates praise Schumer-Manchin climate deal, despite a possible short-term bump in oil, gas leases The deal Demoractic Sens. Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer brokered is heavy on tax credits and incentives to help build out the US clean energy sector.Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the coal country lawmaker whose state economy depends on natural gas production, was never going to let that happen.

The 725-page “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” would cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors to $2,000 a year, and help some 13 million families with subsidies to purchase their own health insurance policies. It invests $369 billion over the decade on tax incentives to fight climate change, including $4,000 for used electric vehicles and $7,500 for new ones.

The package is paid for largely by imposing a 15% minimum tax on corporations earning more than $1 billion a year and by allowing the federal government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower costs. Leftover savings, some $300 billion, will go to pay down deficits.

With Republicans solidly opposed, Democrats will need every senator in their 50-50 majority to ensure passage, which is what gives Manchin — and every other senator, in fact — such a strong hand in negotiations.

Manchin in a conference call Thursday with reporters called the final product a “win-win.”


Video: Raising taxes is exactly the wrong thing to do right now: GOP lawmaker (Fox Business)

How Joe Manchin was finally convinced the new climate, tax, and healthcare deal would ease inflation and pay down the national deficit

  How Joe Manchin was finally convinced the new climate, tax, and healthcare deal would ease inflation and pay down the national deficit A senator, a former Treasury Secretary, and Wharton business school were key in getting Manchin to come around to Biden's economic agenda.After killing Build Back Better in January, it seems that the centrist Democratic West Virginia senator had a few crucial conversations that convinced him that his biggest fears — raising the national debt and worsening inflation — would actually be assuaged by some version of the economic agenda he once torpedoed.

It almost didn't happen.

Biden and Manchin had barely spoken since negotiations abruptly collapsed late last year, a brutal end to the president's once expansive “Build Back Better" project, a more than $4 trillion proposal of infrastructure investments and family support.

The two had famously engaged in personal, candid conversations, including once at the president's family home in Delaware as Biden reached for an achievement on par with Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, while Manchin always remained cool to such a broad, far-reaching effort.

Despite months of talks, Manchin called it all off shortly before Christmas, enraging colleagues and and the White House, which publicly scolded the senator for the collapse of Biden's signature domestic proposal. Relations between the president and the senator were beyond strained.

Instead, Schumer took over working with Manchin in the new year, as the White House outsourced the negotiations back to Capitol Hill. The Democratic leader from New York had to slow down, steadily trying to rebuild the talks around a smaller but still substantial package Manchin would support.

All along, Manchin has insisted he never walked away from any talks. He was still in touch with the White House, even talking at times with Biden, and simply did not want his Democratic Party to go overboard as he tried to rein in the president's ambitious initiatives and keep spending down.

GOP senator accuses Biden of breaking campaign pledge for backing Manchin-Schumer deal

  GOP senator accuses Biden of breaking campaign pledge for backing Manchin-Schumer deal The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is warning that millions of Americans making less than $400,000 annually would see tax hikes if Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) energy and healthcare spending deal is passed. The Inflation Reduction Act is a scaled-back alternative to Build Back Better, a sweeping social spending and green energy bill that Manchin killed last year when he objected to its price tag and raised his concerns over inflation, was announced just hours after the Senate passed the bipartisan CHIPS Act on Wednesday, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had pr

“My main concern was inflation,” Manchin said, citing the high price of food, gas. “I hear about it every day.”

Manchin also kept close relations with Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has publicly and privately encouraged Manchin to steer away from the Democrats' agenda. The Republican leader has openly mused about potentially welcoming the conservative senator into the ranks of the GOP.

Just as negotiations appeared to be gaining ground ahead of the summer recess, Manchin again hit pause on July 14, as inflation fears spiked anew.

“I just couldn't do it,” Manchin told Schumer.

It got "hot and heated," Manchin acknowledged.

Colleagues were livid, and even Manchin complained about their reaction.

“That’s when they turned the dogs loose -- that night, saying I’m against all this stuff,” he said.

Quietly, one senator after another reached out to Manchin, trying to bring him back to the table.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a Biden ally, paid a visit to Manchin's office, as did others, according to an aide familiar with the private talks. Lawrence Summers, the former Clinton administration economic adviser, called Manchin to discuss the senator's inflation worries.

Coons listened, hearing the senator out as Manchin insisted he never walked away from the table, despite the way it was being portrayed.

The best way to show the naysayers he still wanted a deal, Coons counseled, was for Manchin to propose the biggest package he possibly could support.

When Manchin and Schumer passed in the halls that Monday at the Capitol, they acknowledged “our tempers get a little bit ahead of us at times,” Manchin said.

Manchin defends climate, tax deal with Schumer in multi-show blitz

  Manchin defends climate, tax deal with Schumer in multi-show blitz Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) appeared on all five major political talk shows on Sunday to defend his climate, health care and tax deal reached with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) while fending off Republican senators who called it a betrayal. Manchin took to the airwaves to portray the package as inflation-fighting legislation, championing provisions…Manchin took to the airwaves to portray the package as inflation-fighting legislation, championing provisions like those empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices and a $300 billion allocation to reduce the federal deficit.

“Let's recalibrate," Manchin suggested.

The two met that Monday afternoon in the basement conference room, which had no windows but did have a mural of the Capitol building, one of the people familiar with the talks said.

After they emerged with the handshake agreement, they spent the next week and a half working on the package, even when Manchin had to stay in West Virginia after testing positive for COVID.

Upon reaching the final agreement Wednesday afternoon, Schumer and Manchin shook hands again — a “virtual handshake,” as they called it — across the miles on a video call.

The senators briefed the White House — Biden and Manchin were speaking again.

The president and the senator, both isolating from COVID, compared symptoms.

Schumer met one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in his office and then briefed his fellow senators.

“It's been a momentous 24 hours,” Schumer said as he closed out the Senate late Thursday looking ahead to next week’s votes.

“If you’re doing the right thing and persist, you’ll succeed,” Schumer said in brief remarks in his office. “We persisted. Hopefully we’re going to succeed.”

___ Associated Press writer Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

Inside Joe Manchin’s non-stop media tour after secret Schumer deal .
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) appeared on every major Sunday political talk show to defend his surprise energy, health care, and tax deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) following criticism from both sides of the aisle. The West Virginia senator, who unveiled the Inflation Reduction Act on Wednesday, completed a virtual version of a "full Ginsburg" on Sunday by appearing on the five largest weekend news programs: CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, ABC's This Week, CBS's Face the Nation and NBC's Meet the Press.

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