Democrats scrambled to form a carbon tax proposal after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin rejected a key Build Back Better plan measure to combat climate change but the centrist senator has sent negotiators back to the drawing board after shooting down that idea as well, The New York Times reports.
Manchin said he would not vote for a bill that includes President Joe Biden’s clean electricity proposal, prompting Democrats to offer a tax on carbon dioxide pollution instead.
“I’ve had a carbon pricing bill in my desk for the last three years just waiting for the time,” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden told the Times. “What has been striking is the number of senators who’ve come to me about this since early fall — after Louisiana got clobbered with storms, the East Coast flooding, the Bootleg wildfires here in my own state. Now there are a number of senators, key moderate senators, who’ve said they’re open to this. And a lot of House folks who have said they would support it if the Senate sends it over.”
White House officials have also discussed a cap-and-trade program and clean energy tax incentives.
Manchin says no:
Asked whether he was discussing a carbon tax proposal with his Senate colleagues, Manchin told reporters, “we’re not.”
“The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now,” he said.
Manchin is not the only Democrat to balk at the proposal.
“I’m not a big fan of the carbon tax,” Montana Sen. Jon Tester said. “I just don’t think it works the way it was explained to me.”
Appeasing Manchin could alienate other Dems:
Appeasing Manchin’s demands could alienate other lawmakers. Progressives have been adamant that the bill must include a large investment in climate change measures.
“No climate, no deal,” Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey said.
And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, one of the two main holdouts, had signaled openness to a carbon tax after rejecting proposals to increase corporate and top marginal tax rates -- which Manchin actually supports.
Manchin is also pushing work requirements and means testing for aid programs, which progressives oppose.
“We’re talking about targeting and focusing the president’s proposals in some areas on people who need help the most,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.