The news that Democrats, who control the Senate, appear to have reached a deal on a climate, health care and tax package is sending Republicans into hysteria. For now.
If initial reaction is any indicator, top Republicans are heartbroken that conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — often one of their allies — is in on it. Late Wednesday afternoon, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced they reached a deal on a bill they’re calling the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. It was a surprise announcement, given Manchin reportedly balked at climate and tax provisions in the bill just two weeks ago, ostensibly dooming its passage before the midterms this fall.
In an evenly divided Senate with unified GOP obstruction, conservative Democrats like Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have imposed their will on policymaking, knowing their votes would be needed for Democrats to pass anything under a process known as reconciliation.
But according to a joint statement from Manchin and Schumer, their bill does include some progressive priorities — namely, helping stem inflation with tax increases for wealthy Americans and corporations, authorizing billions of dollars for climate measures, and allowing Medicare to negotiate some drug prices.
The GOP is apoplectic.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among the first to push the rote GOP argument that rich people having a little less money will somehow “kill many thousands of American jobs.” Just hours before sending that tweet, the Kentucky Republican voted in favor of a bill boosting semiconductor production in the U.S. — a bill he’d vowed to block if Democrats passed a spending bill without GOP approval.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., won the award for most dramatic response, referring to the bill as a “double cross” by Manchin and the “longest suicide note in the history of West Virginia.” He urged Republicans in the House not to vote for the semiconductor bill. But Democrats are in the House majority and wouldn’t need Republican support (assuming virtually all Democratic members back the bill).
Within hours of Manchin’s announcement, there were signs House Republicans were coalescing around a plan to vote against the semiconductor bill in protest of Schumer and Manchin’s deal. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., sent a memo Wednesday night urging members of his party to vote against the bill, according to The Hill.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., was clear about his hopes for fellow members: Even if you love the bill, vote against it.
If this bill ever becomes law, we can fully expect Republicans to shamelessly boast about its contents to their constituents despite voting against it. For now, they’re fine being hysterical.