The No. 3 Senate Republican warned centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin against throwing his support behind a tax, climate and prescription drug pricing package.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” derided Democrats’ push to pass a slimmed-down version of their signature social spending bill as “a Hail Mary pass” to try to reverse their electoral prospects.
“To my friend Joe Manchin from West Virginia, whose vote is going to be necessary for this, I would remind him that Joe Biden’s popularity in that state is as low as it is in Wyoming,” Barrasso said. “Joe shouldn’t walk the plank for Joe Biden.”
Manchin, who killed efforts to pass a much larger social spending package last year over its hefty price tag and the priorities it funded, has been in discussions with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on a narrower package. Schumer is expected to move quickly to consider the bill this month if a deal with Manchin can be finalized in time.
The talks are concentrated on legislation that would generate $1 trillion in revenue to divide equally between deficit reduction and health and energy spending. The legislation also would include prescription drug pricing reform. The package would be considered under budget processes, known as reconciliation, that bypass the Senate’s filibuster rules and would allow Democrats to pass the package, provided the entire caucus supports it.
The legislation will face unified GOP opposition. Barrasso said the package is “not the solution the American people are looking for” amid decades-high inflation.
“The American people are furious right now, and it’s all about inflation. That’s what this election’s going to be about, and the future of our country,” he said. “The Democrats see the handwriting on the wall … so they’re trying a Hail Mary pass.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to tank a separate bipartisan competition bill that would provide billions in benefits for U.S. microchip manufacturing if Democrats follow through with the party-line spending push. That legislation is still being ironed out by House and Senate negotiators, and Democrats so far have brushed off the threat.
In a separate interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois ripped McConnell’s threat to tank key semiconductor subsidies over the prescription drug pricing push.
“The semiconductor industry is central to economic growth and job creation in this country. We’ve lost ground on it and we’ve got a bill to change that,” Durbin said. “McConnell has said he’s going to stop that bill, and he’s going to do it if we should violate the pharmaceutical companies’ plea to us not to lower prescription drug prices.”
“The bottom line is this: American families need help in paying their bills, and they need help with life-saving drugs being affordable,” he added. “The Democrats are leading that. Sen. McConnell opposes it.”