- McConnell criticized Manchin’s surprise deal after Democrats yanked his leverage.
- He had previously vowed to block a computer chip bill if Democrats advanced Biden’s agenda.
- Hours after Senate Republicans voted for it, Schumer and Manchin announced a deal.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell bashed a nascent agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Democratic leaders that revived swaths of their agenda on Wednesday.
“Democrats have already crushed American families with historic inflation,” the Kentucky Republican wrote on Twitter. “Now they want to pile on giant tax hikes that will hammer workers and kill many thousands of American jobs.”
The agreement between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer resuscitates various Democratic initiatives that were considered dead only two weeks ago. The 725-page bill — titled the “Inflation Reduction Act” — would empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs, extend financial assistance for people to buy Obamacare health insurance, and finance a variety of climate and energy programs to transition the US from fossil fuels.
Manchin released a statement announcing the deal less than three hours after 14 Senate Republicans, including McConnell, joined every Senate Democrat to approve a $52 billion bill to strengthen the semiconductor industry. These are computer chips powering smartphones, medical devices, and other high-tech items facing pandemic-related shortages.
McConnell had previously threatened to hold up the semiconductor legislation if Democrats tried advancing their health, climate, and tax bill. The latter measure is getting passed with only Democratic votes in the budget reconciliation process, allowing them to skirt GOP resistance.
“Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell tweeted a month ago, using another name for the bill.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a confidant of McConnell, sought to downplay the prospect that Manchin and Schumer outmaneuvered Republicans on the so-called chips bill.
“I always assumed if they had the votes to pass reconciliation, they would do it,” Cornyn told Insider on Wednesday. “And there’s nothing we could do to stop them.”
The semiconductor bill now heads to the House, where House Republicans are starting to line up in opposition. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said Senate Democrats had been “deceitful” for drawing GOP support on the computer chips bill, then announcing a broader agreement to revive Biden’s agenda.
One prominent House progressive said she could understand if Republicans were angry at Manchin. “We’ve all been there,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington told reporters.