GOP senator fumes that his party looks like suckers after Manchin announces surprise deal with Dems
Senator John Kennedy during a hearing. (MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP)

On Thursday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) appeared on Fox News to fume about the deal announced the previous night between Democratic leadership and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), reviving a large reconciliation bill that would fund health care, energy, and reduce the deficit.

"They sucked Republican votes up like a Hoover Deluxe and then got their votes and then bam, announced this new tax increase," said Kennedy. "We look like a bunch of – well, I’m not going to say what we look like."

At issue is that the announcement of the deal came immediately after Republicans had cast their votes for the CHIPS Act, a bill that would fund the creation of semiconductors in the United States to reduce dependence on China for electronics.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had previously warned that if a reconciliation bill was in the works, Republicans would block the CHIPS Act from passing. Just days after that threat, Manchin was reported as telling Democratic leadership he would not support any reconciliation deal that includes climate funding or tax increases, leading to speculation that if any deal was reached at all it would be a narrow bill on health care — after which Republicans backed off and re-committed to passing the CHIPS Act.

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The new reconciliation deal appears to reverse all of Manchin's previous statements, with him committing to a revised climate framework and methods of reducing the deficit that involve some modest tax increases on the wealthy.

According to CNN congressional reporter Manu Raju, some House Republicans who previously committed to backing the CHIPS Act are now changing their vote, although the bill is still expected to pass the House later today.

President Joe Biden hailed the breakthrough on the reconciliation bill on Wednesday. "This is the action the American people have been waiting for. This addresses the problems of today -- high health care costs and overall inflation -- as well as investments in our energy security for the future," Biden said in a statement.

If passed, the reconciliation bill will pour some $369 billion into clean energy and climate initiatives and $64 billion into state-funded healthcare, including a popular measure meant to lower ruinously high prescription medicine prices.

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It would be paid for by raising $739 billion, with a major chunk coming from a 15 percent corporate tax rate. An extra $300 billion raised under the plan would go to paying off the federal deficit.

In his statement, Biden said prescription drug prices would drop and healthcare for Americans using the subsidized Affordable Care Act policy would also become $800 a year cheaper.

Funding for clean energy will "create thousands of new jobs and help lower energy costs in the future," he said.

"We will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families making under $400,000 a year."

Biden thanked Manchin, an often unpredictable partner in the Senate, for his "extraordinary effort."

"If enacted, this legislation will be historic, and I urge the Senate to move on this bill as soon as possible, and for the House to follow as well."

With additional reporting by AFP

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