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Senate Republicans who supported the China competition bill are smarting after Sen. Joe Manchin announced a tax and spending deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, but they say they don’t regret their votes.
“I think it’s a lousy idea, it’s going to make inflation worse,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday of the package Manchin and Schumer plan to advance via a procedural tool called reconciliation. “There’s a bad faith element to it.”
But asked if he regrets voting for the China bill, Graham said, “It’s not I regret, it’s cause — we, you know, that’s a problem.”
Earlier this month, Republicans were threatening to kill the China competition bill — it was stuck in committee — as long as Democrats continued working on passing a party-line social policy bill via reconciliation. But top Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, green-lighted the China bill after Manchin, D-W.Va., made a statement appearing to pour cold water on efforts to include climate, energy and tax provisions in the legislation.
But just hours after the Senate cleared the China bill, also known as CHIPS, Wednesday, Manchin and Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a package with all those provisions, including more than $400 billion in spending and $739 billion in tax increases.
Cornyn lit into Manchin in a conversation with reporters Thursday, saying that such a move from Manchin and Democrats will “poison the well” of cooperation.
“It was a complete flip-flop. Everything he said he was against, now he’s for,” Cornyn said. “I just wonder what the transaction was that got him to yes.”
I regret it when people want to look you in the eye and lie to you. But that’s a lesson learned, and it won’t happen again
Cornyn said, “I regret it when people want to look you in the eye and lie to you. But that’s a lesson learned, and it won’t happen again.” He also argued that the China bill and the reconciliation bill are “not connected,” despite explicitly connecting them just weeks ago.
“The CHIPS bill is necessary to shore up an existential threat to our economy and our national security, and that stands on its own merit,” Cornyn said.
Asked about how he connected them before, Cornyn said, “There was previously a statement that they weren’t going to try to raise taxes. … They misrepresented that. But that doesn’t mean that the CHIPS bill is unimportant.”
Manchin, meanwhile, told reporters Thursday that he does not think he pulled a fast one on Republicans.
“No. You know, I sure hope they don’t feel that way. I mean, I understand that they are, but I don’t know why,” he said.
The senator also defended the substance of the bill, and said Republicans should support it if they put aside partisanship.
“I would hope they would look at it with, let’s say, with clear lenses,” Manchin said.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, whose state is expected to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the China bill, slammed the Schumer-Manchin deal. But, he said, “CHIPS is really important to Ohio.”
Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said he’s “very disappointed in the backsliding that’s occurred.” But he said he would not engage in a “hypothetical” about if he would have voted for the China bill if he knew Schumer and Manchin were about to announce a deal.
Democrats, meanwhile, say their bill will help the economy, decrease inflation and position the U.S. better for the 21st century.
“The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will make a historic down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation, invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing, and reduce carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030,” Schumer and Manchin said in a joint statement.
“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,” President Biden said of the bill in a statement Wednesday.
The Senate will likely begin floor proceedings on the Manchin-Schumer deal next week.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report.