Heinrich: ‘Not fair’ for Manchin ‘to string people along for a year’

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) on Tuesday told reporters that it was “not fair” for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) “to string people along for a year” by leading his Democratic colleagues to believe that he would support climate legislation only to pull his backing from a bill last week.  

Heinrich said Manchin did not fulfill his responsibility to fellow Democratic senators, leaving many of them exasperated and frustrated.  

“All of us recognize that Joe has a responsibility to his constituents and his own personal ideas in West Virginia. But he also has a responsibility to the caucus and those things are just out of balance,” Heinrich told reporters before attending a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing chaired by Manchin.  

“I think it’s not fair,” he said. “Time is what we have here, and especially time in the majority. So it’s not fair to string people along for a year and not come to a conclusion. That’s just not an appropriate way to negotiate.” 

Heinrich said Democrats should still try to pass a budget reconciliation package that includes prescription drug reform and a two-year extension of expiring Affordable Care Act subsidies, even if it doesn’t include the climate provisions that he and other Democrats had insisted on. 

“The fundamental challenge here is that the Democratic Party brand and especially for young people is one that is heavily invested in climate,” he said.  

But he said half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.  

“We should get done anything we can get done. We’re here to serve our constituents so if we can do something productive, we should always do that,” he said.  

Heinrich last week questioned whether Manchin should be allowed to continue serving as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  

“We have an opportunity to address the climate crisis right now. Sen. Manchin’s refusal to act is infuriating,” he wrote on Twitter. “It makes me question why he’s chair of ENR.”  

Manchin, who walked into the hearing room shortly after Heinrich spoke to reporters, disputed that he strung along his colleagues.  

“I never strung anybody along. I was the first one to raise the alarm on inflation, I’ve done it well over a year ago. I saw all the signs and indications,” he said.  

Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week that he didn’t want to pass a budget reconciliation bill before Labor Day that included tax increases and spending on climate programs until he had a better understanding of how those reforms would affect inflation. He also wanted to see what the inflation report for July would be before voting for a bigger reconciliation bill.  

“Right now inflation is the number one damaging effect in our economy,” he said. “It’s affecting everybody. 

“So people that are criticizing me, my own colleagues, I understand that. I understand their aspirations, I understand where they’re coming from. I don’t represent the states they represent,” he said, explaining that he’s more worried about the impact of inflation on his constituents. 

Tags Joe Manchin Martin Heinrich

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