Schumer ‘in touch’ with Sinema as Dems seek to move climate, taxes package

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday he is “in touch” with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the centrist lawmaker who has not yet commented on the party’s climate, taxes and health care legislation.

“We’re in touch with Sen. Sinema, we’re in touch with all of the members, and we’re hopeful — I’m very hopeful — we’re all gonna stay united and pass this bill,” Schumer told reporters alongside other Democratic senators at a press conference on Tuesday.

The comments come nearly a week after Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a deal for a climate, health and tax package — a slimmed down version of the budget reconciliation bill that failed to move forward last year.

It includes $369 billion in spending on energy security and climate change and allocates $64 billion to extend health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act for two years.

News of the deal came after quiet, closed-door negotiations between Manchin and Schumer. Sinema, who played a key role in previous reconciliation and infrastructure talks, was left out of the loop. Manchin told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he did not include other senators in the talks because “I didn’t think it would come to fruition.”

Six days after the deal was announced, however, Sinema has remained silent, refusing to say if she is for or against the bill. Her office has only said she is reviewing the deal.

Senate Democrats are looking to approve the package through budget reconciliation, meaning all 50 members of the caucus are needed to trigger a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris and advance the legislation. Without Sinema’s support, the odds of Democrats clearing the package will sink to zero.

Manchin on Tuesday said he was exchanging texts on the deal with Sinema.

One potential sticking point for Sinema is the carried interest loophole, which the Manchin-Schumer bill would close. The tax preference grants asset managers the ability to pay a 20 percent capital gains tax rate on income that is obtained through managing profitable investments.

Sinema previously opposed closing the tax loophole, while Manchin last week said he is intent on keeping the provision in the package.

Asked on Tuesday why carried interest was included in the deal given Sinema’s opposition, Schumer told reporters “Sen. Manchin thought it was strong and it has strong support in our caucus.”