Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced opposition to key elements of a Democratic economic package — prompting an aggressive Friday statement from President Joe Biden.
Two sources told CNN that Manchin — even after months of negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — will “unequivocally” refuse to support Democratic legislation related to climate change and tax increases in an economic package. Biden responded by vowing to take action of his own.
“Let me be clear: if the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment,” Biden declared in a statement. “My actions will create jobs, improve our energy security, bolster domestic manufacturing and supply chains, protect us from oil and gas price hikes in the future, and address climate change. I will not back down: the opportunity to create jobs and build a clean energy future is too important to relent.”
Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is currently a swing vote in the evenly divided Senate, has stalled other elements of the Biden administration’s agenda — including the omnibus Build Back Better plan, efforts to federalize abortion law, and the removal of immigration restrictions.
Manchin recounted his move to sink the Democratic legislation during a Friday morning interview with Talkline.
“I said, ‘Chuck until we see the July inflation figures, until we see the July, basically Federal Reserve rates, interest rates, then let’s wait till that comes out so we know that we’re going down a path that won’t be inflammatory, to add more to inflation,’” Manchin told host Hoppy Kercheval. “He says, ‘Are you telling me you won’t do the other right now?’ I said, ‘Chuck, it’s wrong, it’s not prudent to do the other right now.’”
Biden secured just 29.7% of West Virginian voters during the 2020 election, according to NBC News, while President Donald Trump won 68.6%. West Virginia ranked among the top six states for energy production as of 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, especially with relation to coal.
State officials have previously mourned animosity toward coal power from regulators and progressive investors. Calling green energy “a rich man’s problem,” West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore told The Daily Wire last month that the Mountain State’s reserves are critical to the energy supply of the United States and its allies.
“If we’re going to be an energy independent country, you need states like West Virginia,” Moore remarked. “We could be helping our allies over in Europe … if these people would just let us build pipelines to get gas out of West Virginia.”
Indeed, recent inflationary pressures have largely been driven by high energy costs. Gas prices reached $5.00 per gallon in early June before falling to a national average price of $4.55 as of Saturday, according to AAA. As Moore mentioned, prices are even higher in Europe, which relies heavily upon Russia for its energy supply.
In response to recent questions about “enormously high gas prices,” Biden argued that the phenomenon will induce a faster transition to green energy. “When it comes to the gas prices, we’re going through an incredible transition that is taking place that, God willing, when it’s over, we’ll be stronger and the world will be stronger and less reliant on fossil fuels when this is over,” he commented.