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Biden to Senate leadership: Accept Manchin’s demands

President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed a deal all but demanded by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to tackle prescription drug reform and health care subsidies and leave climate change matters to a latter, uncertain date.

In a statement issued by the White House, Biden pledged to tackle climate change and clean energy through executive action, should Congress not act legislatively. But he also asked Senate leadership to pass a narrow bill that would “give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices and to prevent an increase in health insurance premiums for millions of families,” and to do so before the August recess.

That timeframe is an informal commitment to pass a package along the lines of what Manchin has pushed for. The West Virginia Democrat told party leadership this week that he would not support a larger bill that included climate provisions and tax increases. He clarified on Friday that he might be able to support those measures but only after July’s inflation report comes in. That would require Congress to wait until after the August recess with continued uncertainty if Manchin would even support the final measure.

Biden, in his statement, all but told lawmakers not to take such a risk.

“Families all over the nation will sleep easier if Congress takes this action,” he said. “The Senate should move forward, pass it before the August recess, and get it to my desk so I can sign it.”

Biden’s statement comes after the White House for months largely left negotiations with Manchin up to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. But after Manchin issued his latest ultimatum, Biden wasted little time wading in to head off an intra-party feud.