Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is one of the most powerful men in Washington, and even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has had to acknowledge Manchin’s pivotal role as a centrist standing against the progressive agenda.
A document from late July shows Schumer’s signature on an agreement with Manchin laying out the terms in which the West Virginia senator would vote “yes” on for this fiscal year’s budget and President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan.
The fact that the document — titled “Agreement to Start Budget Resolution” — was signed out of public sight in July, and kept under wraps until it was leaked last week, shows Schumer hasn’t even been honest with members of his own party as negotiations have lurched forward.
The document states that Manchin’s limit on a budget would be $1.5 trillion, a far cry from the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill currently backed by the majority of Democrats.
In Manchin’s ideal world, that $1.5 trillion or less would not be available until all the cash from coronavirus relief legislation is used.
Furthermore, it explains that Manchin would not agree to more than 25 percent corporate tax rate, unlike the currently proposed 26.5 percent.
On the energy front, Manchin demanded that coal and natural gas must “feasibly qualify” for the carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) tax credit, and that electric vehicles should not be the only ones that benefit from a fuel and vehicle tax credit.
“Senator Manchin does not guarantee that he will vote for the final legislation if it exceeds the conditions outlined in this agreement,” the document concluded.
Both Manchin and Schumer signed the agreement.
Underneath his signature, Schumer wrote in hand: “I will try to dissuade Joe on many of these.”
Politico reporter Tara Palmeri noted that this letter is a sign of distrust within the Democratic Party, where far-left progressives are battling to impose their agenda on the entire country.
“This document reads to me like a sign of lack of trust on the Hill, a far cry from a time when a handshake was enough,” she wrote in a Twitter post last week.
this document reads to me like a sign of lack of trust on the Hill, a far cry from a time when a handshake was enough pic.twitter.com/K5G2HZLvSq
— Tara Palmeri (@tarapalmeri) September 30, 2021
That lack of trust is also apparent in the secrecy surrounding the document, showing how Democrats — members of the party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress — aren’t being candid with each other.
As the liberal HuffPost reported last week, top Democrats were taken by surprise when word of the Manchin-Schumer agreement became public.
“The news of the document landed like a bombshell on Capitol Hill, where reporters have tried for months to get Manchin to spell out his demands with little success. Asked Thursday why he wasn’t more transparent about his position on reconciliation, including on the overall spending total he is willing to support, Manchin said he ‘was trying to honor my agreement’ with Schumer. He didn’t elaborate.
“A spokesperson for Schumer sought to downplay the significance of the document their boss signed, saying the senator ‘never agreed to any of the conditions Sen. Manchin laid out; he merely acknowledged where Sen. Manchin was on the subject at the time.’
“Still, Schumer kept many of his members in the dark about the existence of the document, which stayed secret for over two months as lawmakers pressed forward with expectations of a larger bill that included many progressive priorities. Schumer even kept members of his leadership team out of the loop.”
Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the party’s policy committee said she was unaware of the document, HuffPost reported. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, vice chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Conference, said she was “not pleasantly” surprised to hear of the agreement.
“It’s always helpful when you’re negotiating to have information about the other people you’re talking about,” she said, according to HuffPost.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Schumer’s ostensible partner in running Congress, was reportedly unaware of the deal.
Manchin, meanwhile, is making no apologies for his position.
“I’ve never been a liberal, in any way shape or form,” he said last week after the document made headlines. “There’s no one who’s ever thought I was. I’ve been a governor, I’ve been a state secretary of state, I’ve been a state legislator, I’ve been U.S. senator, and I have voted pretty consistently my whole life.
“I don’t fault any of them who believe that they’re much more progressive and much more liberal. God bless them. And all they need to do, we have to elect more, I guess, for them to get bills, elect more liberals.
“I’m not asking them to change. I’m willing to come from zero to 1.5.”
Joe Manchin discussing the spending bill:
“I have never been a liberal in any way, shape, or form purple. We need to elect more – elect more liberals. I’m not asking them to change, I am willing to come from zero to 1.5.” pic.twitter.com/BY6SxoMStF
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) September 30, 2021
Liberal Democrats may despise moderates like Manchin at the moment, but they are ultimately standing strong for common sense in the 117th U.S. Congress.
What the Democratic leadership is standing for is a different question.
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