(The Hill) – Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he is exchanging materials with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to help her better understand the broad tax reform and climate bill he negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and says he is open to her suggestions as Democrats seek 50 votes to put the bill on the floor.
Manchin finally got a chance to speak to Sinema after lunch Tuesday, when she was scheduled to preside over the chamber.
Manchin was tight-lipped about the details of the conversation but made clear that he’s willing to consider changes she might want to make to the deal, which would raise $739 billion in new revenue over the next decade and reduce the deficit by more than $300 billion.
“We had a nice time. We had a nice time. Next?” Manchin said Tuesday when reporters pressed him for details of his chat with Sinema while she sat at the Senate dais.
Asked again to shed any light on whether Sinema will vote for the bill, which would give President Biden the biggest legislative victory of his first two years in office, Manchin said his colleague would make her own decision.
“We’re exchanging text back and forth,” he said. She’s “extremely bright, she works hard, she makes good decisions based on facts. I’m reliant on that.”
Manchin said Schumer is “working with all the caucus” to get buy-in from all 50 members to get the budget reconciliation bill to the floor later this week.
Even though Sinema played a major role in negotiating the prescription drug reform component of the bill and set the broad parameters of the tax chapter, she learned about the deal at the same time as all of her colleagues and the general public — through a press release.
Manchin said he’s open to considering changes suggested by Sinema, including on a proposal to close the carried interest tax loophole, one of his priorities.
“We’re just basically exchanging back and forth, whatever I have that she hasn’t seen. And our staffs are working together very closely,” he said, adding he’s also exchanging materials relevant to the bill with other Democratic and Republican senators.
Asked if he would be willing to change the bill’s carried interest provision, Manchin responded: “Everyone is still talking.”
But Manchin defended closing the loophole that allows money managers to pay capital gains tax rates on income they collect from managing profitable investments.
Asked whether Sinema is upset that she didn’t get looped into last week’s talks with Schumer, which produced the surprise deal, Manchin said he didn’t want to get any senator’s hopes up when he didn’t know whether an agreement was even possible.
“She’s my dear friend,” he said. “But why bring anyone in and all their aspirations get high and the drama we go through and it doesn’t work out?
“I wasn’t really sure” a deal could be reached, he said. “I’m not in control of the timing” of the announcement of the deal, “Sen. Schumer is in control of the timing.”
“People getting mad because they think this is some kind of orchestrated coup against them is just so wrong,” he added.