Senator Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat infamous for being the stop gate to his own party’s policy goals, made a major U-turn and announced he signed onto a domestic policy bill addressing national debt, healthcare, taxes, and climate change.
Manchin reached a deal with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday evening. Manchin said the new policy package was called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and included “realistic energy and climate policy.”
The u-turn comes two weeks after Manchin appeared essentially to kill off flagship climate action legislation when he came out against raising taxes on the wealthiest, and refused to support any more funding to address climate change.
Manchin is considered the crucial swing vote, despite being a part of the Democratic Party. But with a Senate split of 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Manchin continuously sinks his party’s hopes of major bills.
After two years of negotiation, Manchin has seemingly come around to supporting the measure.
Manchin has made millions of dollars through his family’s coal business. He cited runaway inflation when he opposed bill proposals to boost renewable energy and electric cars.
But now, punishing heatwaves are crushing across the U.S., giving way to wildfires and dangerous heat across the nation. They have served as real, painful reminders that climate change has already begun, and this change means more extreme heat and drought, as well as other natural disasters.
Manchin indicated that he would support a narrower package that excluded climate policies. This new agreement came suddenly.
President Joe Biden said he supports the compromise that was reached and urged the Senate to pass the legislation as soon as possible.
Manchin offered no specifics about the package that he finally agreed to but did note that it “invests in technologies needed for all fuel types — from hydrogen, nuclear, renewables, fossil fuels and energy storage.”
He said that the plan “does not arbitrarily shut off our abundant fossil fuels.”
Climate change and green energy experts say that it is likely Manchin agreed to the bill because it protected his interests and profits in coal.
A policy brief says that the bill will generate money through a corporate minimum tax and other means.
And that the proposal will invest in energy security and climate change.