As Ed Kilgore said earlier this week, there's no reason to consider Sen. Joe Manchin's deal on climate change legislation a done deal, simply because Democrats will need all 50 Senate vote to pass anything in budget reconciliation, and it also means Republicans only need to present a united front and peel off one vote to amend the package, perhaps fatally so. President Manchin has signed on.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) had a message for her Democratic colleagues before she flew home to Arizona for the weekend: She's preserving her options.
Why it matters: Sinema has leverage and she knows it. Any potential modification to the Democrat's climate and deficit reduction package — like knocking out the $14 billion provision on carried interest — could cause the fragile deal to collapse.
Her posture is causing something between angst and fear in the Democratic caucus as senators wait for her to render a verdict on the secret deal announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin last Thursday.
Driving the news: Sinema has given no assurances to colleagues that she’ll vote along party lines in the so-called “vote-a-rama” for the $740 billion bill next week, according to people familiar with the matter.The vote-a-rama process allows lawmakers to offer an unlimited number of amendments, as long as they are ruled germane by the Senate parliamentarian. Senators — and reporters — expect a late night.
Republicans, steaming mad that Democrats have a chance to send a $280 billion China competition package and a massive climate and health care bill to President Biden, will use the vote-a-rama to force vulnerable Democrats to take politically difficult votes.
They'll also attempt to kill the reconciliation package with poison pills — amendments that make it impossible for Schumer to find 50 votes for final passage.
The intrigue: Not only is Sinema indicating that she's open to letting Republicans modify the bill, she has given no guarantees she’ll support a final “wrap-around” amendment, which would restore the original Schumer-Manchin deal.
The big picture: Schumer made a calculated decision to negotiate a package with Manchin in secrecy. He assumed that all of his other members, including Sinema, would fall into line and support the deal.Now his caucus is digesting the specifics, with Sinema taking a printout of the 725-page bill back to Arizona on Friday for some dense in-flight reading.
Schumer will find out this week if his gamble in keeping Sinema in the dark will pay off.