WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s views remained a mystery Monday as party leaders eyed votes later this week on their emerging economic legislation and both parties pointed to dueling studies which they used to praise or belittle the impact of the measure.
With Democrats needing all 50 of their votes for the energy and health measure to pass the Senate, a Sinema spokesman suggested the Arizona lawmaker would take her time revealing her decision. Hannah Hurley said Sinema was reviewing the bill and “will have to see what comes out of the parliamentary process.” The House Rules arbitrator could take days to decide whether the measure violates procedural guidelines and needs changes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced a deal last week on legislation that would raise taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals, boost fuel fossil fuels and climate change efforts and curbed pharmaceutical prices. In all, it would raise $739 billion over 10 years in revenue and spend $433 billion, leaving more than $300 billion to modestly reduce federal deficits.
The legislation would give President Joe Biden a win on his domestic agenda heading into this fall’s congressional elections. If Sinema calls for changes, he would face enormous pressure to strike a deal with key Democrats and avoid a campaign season defeat that would deal a blow to his party’s prospects in November.
Manchin is one of the most conservative and adversarial Democrats in Congress. He has spent more than a year forcing his party to make sharp cuts to its economic proposals, citing inflation fears, and his commitment to Schumer last week shocked colleagues who had given up hope. to accept such a broad measure.
Sinema has played a lower-profile but similar role to Manchin’s: a lawmaker who can be unpredictable and willing to use the leverage that all Democrats have in a 50-50 Senate. Last year, she praised a proposal for a minimum tax on large corporations, which the new legislation has, but she has also been opposed to raising corporate or individual tax rates.
“She has a lot on this bill,” Manchin told reporters Monday, citing his support for past efforts to control prescription drug prices. He said he has been “very adamant” about not raising taxes, adding: “I feel the same way.”
Manchin has argued that the bill’s imposition of a 15% minimum tax on companies making more than $1 billion a year is not a tax increase. It says it closes the loopholes these companies use to escape paying the current 21% corporation tax.
Republicans scoffed at that reasoning, saying his tax hikes would weaken the economy and kill jobs. They cited a report by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress that said about half of the minimum business tax would hit manufacturing companies.
“So in the midst of a supply chain crisis, Democrats want huge, job-killing tax hikes that will disproportionately crush American manufacturing and manufacturing jobs,” said the leader of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Biden has said he won’t raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year. Manchin has said the Democratic package makes good on that promise.
Republicans recently released another analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation that said the measure would raise taxes on people who earn below that number. Democrats criticized the study as incomplete, saying it omitted the impact on middle-class families of the bill’s health insurance subsidies and clean energy tax cuts.
Democrats touted a report by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He said the move “will push the economy and inflation in the right direction, while significantly addressing climate change and reducing the government’s budget deficits.”
Schumer said he expected votes to begin this week in the Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris could cast the tie-breaking vote to ensure passage. The closely divided House has gone out of town for an August recess, but Democratic leaders have said they would bring lawmakers back for a vote, possibly as soon as next week.