Manchin fends off GOP criticism of climate, tax deal with Schumer

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Sunday pushed back on Republicans’ criticism of a climate, health care and tax deal he struck with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), championing the package as a measure to fight inflation and reduce the deficit.

When asked by CBS “Face the Nation” guest moderator John Dickerson about recent comments from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and other Republicans saying the behind-the-scenes deal broke a layer trust, Manchin said he never thought the deal would “come to fruition,” but he believes the package is important to move forward.

“We have energy, and we have investments for new energy, but basically, that’s a responsibility,” Manchin said. 

“You can walk and chew gum,” he continued. “You have a balanced approach. These are solutions Americans want. We were able to provide these solutions. Let’s not make them political.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had threatened to tank a separate bill funding investments in semiconductor manufacturing if Democrats moved forward with the reconciliation package that only needs all 50 Democrats to pass.

Talks between Manchin and Schumer broke down on July 14, with the Democratic leader accusing him of “walking away” from a deal.

Hours after the Senate passed the semiconductor bill, Manchin and Schumer announced they had reached a deal on the reconciliation bill that would invest hundreds of billions in climate-related programs and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Many Republicans have indicated they felt betrayed by the announcement.

“I never told anybody that I wasn’t going to do something,” Manchin said on CBS, also calling Republicans’ accusations of betrayal “such a shame.”

“If I had a chance to fix the energy policy of the United States of America, and I didn’t do it, shame on me,” he continued. “But I had the chance to reduce the amount of inflation and people in West Virginia and across the country are enduring right now.”

Inflation has hit a roughly 40-year high in recent months and consistently polls as a top issue for voters. Manchin cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicating inflation hit 9.1 percent in the year ending in June when talks broke down earlier this month, but now Manchin is championing the measure as designed to fight inflation.

“This is fighting inflation,” Manchin said. “This is all about the the absolute horrible position that people were in now, because of the inflation cost, whether it be gasoline, whether it be food pricing, whether it be energy pricing.”