The Last-Ditch Effort to Win Joe Manchin’s Support

Republicans and Democrats are battling for Sen. Joe Manchin’s attention on whether portions of President Biden’s plan are still in play before the November elections.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is trying to get Manchin on board with global warming and pharmaceutical drug price initiatives.

GOP legislators are diverting Manchin’s attention to bipartisan discussions on gun regulation and energy legislation, something to keep the crucial senator out of Schumer’s office.

At the same time, anti-tax activists are running ads in West Virginia to pressure Manchin to vote against proposed budget increases that would help Democratic initiatives.

Running Down the Clock

Mike Plante, a Democratic consultant in West Virginia, stated, “We’re running out of time.”

Plante warned Manchin has substantial limitations on what sort of deal he may support, including that it must cut the deficit.

Mike Lux, a Democratic consultant, said Republicans are “running out the clock” by diverting Manchin’s attention from Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

26 House Democrats warned Manchin and Schumer last month that health insurance costs would rise, unless Congress preserved premium tax credits.

They argued lower out-of-pocket payments and increased coverage must become permanent pillars of our healthcare system.

Democratic aides believe it will take weeks to draft legislation and review it with the Senate parliamentarian before the budget reconciliation guidelines expire on Sept. 30.

Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative anti-tax organization, runs a “six-figure” radio ad campaign in West Virginia, emphasizing gasoline prices and warning “any tax increase would be a disaster for America.”

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, said Manchin increased his job approval numbers in West Virginia by 17 points by opposing Biden’s plan.

Manchin would lose those gains by backing a budget reconciliation deal after months of resistance.

Possible Backlash

Even if Manchin reduces the size of the expenditure reconciliation package, he’ll face criticism in West Virginia for helping to execute Biden’s domestic economic plan, mainly if it includes tax increases.

Schumer kept Senate Democrats in the dark about his negotiations with Manchin. Schumer visited Manchin twice before Memorial Day holiday and says he won’t give up on getting his vote.

Manchin said Congress should “at least” pass prescription medication reform. Manchin also said Democrats must decrease prescription medicine prices before the midterms.

Manchin gave Democrats optimism this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying “there’s potential” to achieve serious measures to pay down the debt, modify prescription drug rates, and address climate change.

Democratic strategists think passing a few components of Biden’s Build Back Better program might help vulnerable Democrats in November.

Mollineau said Republican efforts to engage Manchin on gun regulation and energy bills wouldn’t keep him too busy to discuss a budget reconciliation deal before the August vacation.

Jim Kessler, executive vice president for strategy at Third Way, said Manchin may seek to negotiate a deal with Schumer.

Republicans are projected to win the House. Democrats might increase their Senate majority or lose power to Republicans.