Biden’s fight with Manchin over key legislation adds to pile of overreach claims

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FILE – President Joe Biden hands the pen he used to sign the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., watches in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 16, 2022. Manchin made a deal with Democratic leaders as part of his vote pushing the party’s highest legislative priority across the finish line last month. Now, he’s ready to collect. But many environmental advocacy groups and lawmakers are balking. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Susan Walsh/AP

Biden’s fight with Manchin over key legislation adds to pile of overreach claims

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Senators who delivered historic legislative wins to President Joe Biden last year are beginning to regret it.

Bipartisan complaints from the upper chamber now add to a long list of accusations that the Biden administration is exceeding the powers granted to the executive branch.


“I think they’re going to try to screw me on this, and I’m willing to go to court,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said during comments at the SAFE Summit, an industry conference focused on electrification. “I’m willing to stop it all.”

Manchin provided the crucial vote to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which, among other things, included a $7,500 tax credit for electrical vehicles intended to promote both green energy and American manufacturing. But some of the buy-American provisions upset Asian and European allies, and Biden later told French President Emmanuel Macron there were “tweaks” that could be made even though the bill had already been signed into law.

Those tweaks were unveiled Friday when the Treasury Department announced it would open electric vehicle tax credits to more foreign exporters’ products.

Manchin was furious, saying the “horrific” move undercuts the bill’s intent to bring manufacturing back to the United States and would “cede control” to the Chinese Communist Party.

He also threatened to sue.

“I think they’re going to try to screw me on this, and I’m willing to go to court,” Manchin said.

Just a few weeks prior, a group of Republican senators felt similar remorse. They had helped pass the CHIPS and Science Act, which was designed to promote American semiconductor manufacturing, and were upset the Biden administration stipulated on its own that companies receiving money from the bill would have to provide child care, detail their relationships with unions, share profits beyond a certain threshold with the government, and purchase supplies from domestic producers, among other requirements.

“We are in strong opposition to regulations your Department is putting in place that will use this legislation and the funding it provides as a tool to pursue controversial policies that go beyond the requirements of the law,” wrote Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

While those are the two most recent examples, accusations of executive overreach have been lobbed at Biden since the early days of his presidency. Those claims have included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, the federal vaccine mandate for private employers, the federal mask mandate, Biden’s $400 billion student debt transfer, efforts to ban gas stoves and curtail independent contracting, and even an attempt to expand the definition of “waters of the United States.”

“Executive overreach has become synonymous with the Biden administration,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said during a Senate floor speech in March. “It’s created a desperate need for oversight from my Republican colleagues, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.”

Capito mentioned an analysis from the American Action Forum, which found that the Biden administration has imposed 539 regulatory actions since taking office, creating $359 billion in costs.

Spearheaded by Capito, the Senate later voted to overturn a WOTUS rule that could have placed federal regulations on small, temporary waterways.

But Manchin, who faces long odds at reelection in 2024, may not be so lucky, and his conservative manufacturing-heavy state could be negatively affected if the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits are diluted.

“We have a respectful, a productive relationship with Sen. Joe Manchin,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about his criticisms of the Inflation Reduction Act. “And we are very proud of the Inflation Reduction Act and our shared goals and values that the President signed into law, as you know, this past summer.”

The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.

Republicans have vowed to rein the White House in now that they control the House of Representatives, but the biggest check on Biden’s power may be the Supreme Court.


The high court has struck down a series of pandemic-related administration moves, including the eviction moratorium, vaccine and mask mandates, and efforts to regulate emissions, and may do so with student loans as well.

“Some of the biggest mistakes in the court’s history were deferring to assertions of executive or emergency power,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said during the student loans hearings. “Some of the finest moments in the court’s history were pushing back against presidential assertions of emergency power, and that’s continued not just in the Korean War but post-9/11, in some of the cases there.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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