News and Analysis

Manchin: Carbon Tax ‘Not On The Table’ For Infrastructure Bill
U.S. Lawmakers Narrow Infrastructure Gaps Without Reaching Deal Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, speaks during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. A bipartisan group of senators and the White House reached a tentative agreement on a $550 billion infrastructure package, a significant breakthrough in the drive to muscle through Congress a massive infusion of spending for roads, bridges and other critical projects. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor via Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told reporters that a carbon tax is “not on the board” in negotiations over the Biden administration’s proposed infrastructure and spending plans.

“The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” the Democrat told reporters Tuesday morning. When asked whether he would get behind a carbon tax in the future, Manchin repeated that the tax was not being considered.

The carbon tax is a tax on energy production which would essentially be a fee levied on greenhouse gas emissions. Reuters describes how it works: “under a carbon tax, the government sets a gradually rising price for each ton of greenhouse gas that polluters emit, incentivizing industries to move to cleaner energy sources.”

Progressive Democrats have floated the carbon tax as an alternative clean energy initiative after Manchin opposed the Clean Electricity Performance Program, a $150 billion plan to transition away from greenhouse gas emissions in the energy industry.

The plan, which would use incentives and fines to encourage energy companies to invest in clean energy, would have aimed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of the energy sector by 80% by 2030, but it has been scrapped because of Manchin’s opposition. 

“If the CEPP has fallen out of the package, that makes the methane and carbon pollution fees even more critical as a pathway to safety,” Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse told The Hill. 

The carbon tax is an even more difficult get for progressives. Manchin has been stalwart in his opposition to the carbon tax.

“Any type of a tax is going to be passed on to the people,” he told reporters in September. “Now if a tax is going to be beneficial to help something and give us more research and development and innovation and technology, it’s something to look at,” he said. But The Hill reported at the time that Manchin was skeptical of the benefits of the carbon tax proposal.

Manchin is not the only Democrat opposed to the carbon tax. Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester also voiced his opposition to the proposal Tuesday.

“I’m not a big fan of the carbon tax. I just don’t think it works the way it was explained to me,” Tester said, via The Hill.

Democrats need the support of their entire caucus to pass much of the Biden administration’s domestic agenda, especially the massive $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” spending plan the party is attempting to pass through the budget reconciliation process. But with the Senate evenly split 50-50, Manchin’s staunch opposition to his own party’s proposals has stymied Democrats’ efforts.

Manchin told the administration Sunday he would not support Biden’s child tax credit unless it included a hard work requirement and a $60,000 family income cap. Manchin has also set a hard fiscal cap of $1.5 trillion in new spending, and has called the larger $3.5 trillion package “the definition of fiscal insanity.” 

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