(The Hill) – West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and others were left out of recent negotiations about climate, health care and taxes because he feared a deal wouldn’t come to “fruition.”
Manchin struck the deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York that requires the support of all 50 Senate Democrats, placing Sinema, who was not involved in the behind-the-scenes negotiations, in close scrutiny until she announces a position.
“The reason people weren’t brought into this, I didn’t think it would come to fruition,” Manchin told CNN “State of the Union” co-anchor Jake Tapper. “I didn’t want to disappoint people.”
The bill is a slimmed-down package from the roughly $3 trillion Build Back Better deal that Democrats hoped to pass before Manchin announced he couldn’t support the bill late last year after months of wrangling over a potential deal.
Manchin and Schumer had been negotiating for months on a smaller package. Their talks collapsed on July 14, but the two Democrats surprised many in Washington when they announced a deal last week.
The package would invest $369 billion in energy-focused climate programs over the next 10 years and $300 billion to reduce the deficit in addition to provisions to extend health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
When asked by Tapper whether Sinema would support the bill, Manchin highlighted what he said were her contributions to the potential text.
He said Sinema was “very instrumental” in allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and the two moderate senators were in agreement to not raise taxes on Americans.
“She has so much in this piece of legislation,” Manchin said. “She’s formed quite a bit of it and worked on it very hard.”
Manchin added that he and Sinema “speak a lot” but declined to say the last time they met.
“Hopefully, she will be positive about it,” he said. “But she’ll make her decision. I respect that.”
Manchin said he hopes that the Senate will pass the bill this week before they leave for the upcoming August recess.