Cursing Joe Manchin is tempting for many Democrats, but it’s also counterproductive.
“My bottom line is, don’t waste time complaining about what happened, “ Rep. Tom Malinowski said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “We should jump out of the starting gate in January.”
Malinowski is no innocent bystander.
The CD-7 congressman already faces a tough battle in a district he won last year by less than 5,000 votes.
That task figures to get tougher if there is no repeal of the $10,000 deduction cap on state and local taxes, or SALT. That repeal is included in the Build Back Better bill – legislation Manchin said Sunday he will oppose. In a 50-50 Senate, a “no” vote by Manchin would kill the bill.
Malinowski sees a way forward by breaking up the $1.75 trillion bill into smaller pieces, especially parts of it that polls say are extremely popular.
That would include money for child care and initiatives to reduce drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription prices. The congressman said he’d love to see the Senate debate those issues.
Repealing the SALT cap would be tricky. Malinowski concedes it could not pass the Senate as a stand-alone bill, so it would have to be linked to other popular measures. Malinowski said he thinks that’s a possibility, but he didn’t want to go into specifics as to how it can be done.
Chuck Schumer, the Majority Leader, says he plans to hold a vote on Build Back Better in January. Rather than the debate Malinowski would like to see, this move seems designed to force Manchin to publicly defy his Democratic colleagues and the president by opposing the Biden administration’s major domestic package.
Speaking of Manchin, Malinowski said it can’t be overlooked that his outsized influence came about simply because of the 50-50 split. Just one or two more Senate Democrats would make all the difference.
In the fallout from Manchin’s intentions, some left wing Democrats have lamented the passage earlier this year of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Some Democratic House members originally wanted the two bills linked.
Malinowski is not one of them. He said of the infrastructure bill, which among other things, will finally finance a new rail tunnel under the Hudson:
“It’s a huge accomplishment. It’s great for New Jersey.”