WASHINGTON ― Having finally convinced Republican Senator Joe Manchin to support a landmark climate and energy bill, Democrats now wait to hear from the other thorn in his side: Kyrsten Sinema.
The moderate Democrat from Arizona is keeping everyone in suspense over whether she will vote for the Inflation Reduction Act and bolster her party’s chances in November’s midterm elections. That includes Manchin, who largely wrote the bill himself in secret talks with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.).
Manchin spoke to Sinema on the Senate floor Tuesday, gesturing frequently with his hands as she listened stoically. He refused to talk about the trade afterward. “We had a nice chat,” he told reporters.
“She has contributed a lot, a lot to this legislation,” Manchin said early Tuesday at a MSNBC interview.
“This is all Kyrsten agreed to in December: She signed the bill in December,” the West Virginia Democrat said. added in a separate interview with radio host Hoppy Kercheval.
“We’re doing more than praying, you know,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn). “Obviously we are going to explain to him that this is good for the country and good for Arizona. So, I think we can get there.”
The new bill omitted a large part of the tax proposals that Democrats had previously tried to enact, including higher corporate and individual tax rates and higher capital gains taxes, proposals that Manchin supported but Sinema did not.
It does, however, include a tax proposal that Sinema may oppose: closing the so-called accrued interest loophole that gives wealthy mutual fund managers lower tax rates on their earnings than regular workers pay on their wages. . Democrats have shaken their fists at the loophole for decades, but have never done anything about it.
Business groups and private equity firms are pressuring Sinema to remove the provision, according to Bloomberg.
Several Democrats told HuffPost they didn’t hear from Sinema during their weekly caucus luncheon, which was virtual in light of recent COVID-19 cases.
Sinema’s office did not respond to a query about its position on the bill this week.
Asked Tuesday if he had heard from voters about the shared-interest proposal, Sen. Mark Kelly, the junior senator from Arizona seeking re-election this year, said, “I hear a lot about prescription drugs.”
But the legislation primarily increases revenue through a new corporate minimum tax and stricter IRS enforcement of current tax laws, things Sinema previously supported. The accrued interest piece brings in just $14 billion of the several hundred billion coming from the other provisions.
The twin centerpieces of the legislation are a $300 billion investment in green energy and a wildly popular proposal that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. The Reducing Inflation Act would also limit out-of-pocket drug costs to $2,000 per year for seniors enrolled in Medicare.
Democrats plan to use a legislative maneuver called reconciliation to pass the bill with just 50 votes. This means that they cannot afford to lose any support in their caucus if it is to become law.
“Without all 50 of us, it wouldn’t happen,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) acknowledged Tuesday.
Democrats could remove the accrued interest provision when the Senate begins voting on amendments to the bill, but Manchin, for now, insists it stay in place.
Sinema has spoken about the need to fight against climate change. His state, like others in the western part of the country, has suffered from severe droughts and wildfires that have been exacerbated by global warming.
Democratic senators are hoping she will change her mind.
“I hope she supports me,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.). “I think she understands climate risks. I mean, who doesn’t right now?
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.