Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is seeking to pressure Sen. Joe Manchin against backing a revival of the Democrats’ stalled economic agenda.
“To my friend Joe Manchin from West Virginia, whose vote is going to be necessary for this, I would remind him that Joe Biden’s popularity in that state it is as low as it is in Wyoming,” Barrasso, the third-ranked Senate Republican, said in a “Fox News Sunday” interview. “Only 17 percent. Joe shouldn’t walk the plank for Joe Biden.”
Barrasso assailed Democrats for pushing additional government spending during a stretch of painful inflation, arguing it would weaken the economy. “That is not the solution the American people are looking for, which is why only 1 in 10 Americans support the direction of the country right now,” Barrasso said.
Democrats counter their bill would be paid for with tax increases, blunting its effect on rising prices.
It comes as Democrats ramp up efforts to revive a smaller version of their economic spending plan after Manchin tanked it at the end of last year. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin have convened numerous times since late April to determine whether a deal can be struck on a slimmed-down climate, energy and tax bill and pass it by the start of August through the intricate reconciliation process.
Reconciliation allows Democrats to circumvent a Republican filibuster and approve bills with a simple majority vote, but the party needs all 50 Democratic senators aboard to pass legislation.
Manchin’s chief priorities include slashing prescription drug costs, shrinking the federal deficit, and raising taxes on the rich and large firms. Democrats have struck a deal on the first measure, but other pieces of the bill are still up in the air. They also seem poised to raise taxes on some high-earners to extend Medicare’s lifespan by three years.
One area includes settling on the amount of spending for clean-energy tax credits meant to transition the US away from fossil fuels. Democrats aim to incentivize the production of electric vehicles, though Manchin has repeatedly slammed the idea for months.
Another outstanding element involves the extension of enhanced financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act that’s set to expire at the end of the year. Democratic leaders are seeking to renew the program and avoid the specter of voters getting notified about steep premium increases next year just before they cast ballots in November. Manchin has sent mixed signals on whether he’d support it.
Republicans like Barrasso may try to pressure Manchin into bucking the Democratic Party once again. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to tank a bipartisan bill to strengthen US competitiveness against China if Democrats advance their party-line spending bill.
Biden’s approval rating has tumbled in recent months, partly due to worsening inflation. A New York Times/Siena College poll released on Monday indicated only 33% of registered voters approved of Biden’s performance, Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.