Manchin says carbon tax not on the table 'right now'

Biden’s energy proposals have emerged as a key point of contention between moderates and progressives

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Tuesday said a so-called "carbon tax" is not being considered at the moment for inclusion in President Biden’s social spending bill, presenting another potential roadblock for Democratic leaders scrambling for an agreement on the administration’s signature legislation.

Some Democrats, including Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, have floated the inclusion of a carbon tax, which would charge firms a fee based on their greenhouse gas emissions. But the West Virginia Democrat, whose support is required for the spending bill to pass the Senate, said the idea is not up for consideration.

"The carbon tax is not on the board at all right now," Manchin told reporters.


Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, arrives for a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 8, 2021.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images)

Calls for a carbon tax gained momentum in recent days amid reports that Manchin opposes the Biden-backed Clean Electricity Performance Program, an initiative that would reward utility firms for transitioning to clean energy. But the carbon tax is also divisive on Capitol Hill, with critics, including Manchin, warning it could effectively function as a tax hike and raise costs for middle-class Americans.

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, another moderate, told reporters he was "not a big fan" of the concept of a carbon tax.

Despite Manchin’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated during her daily press briefing that administration officials still viewed a carbon tax as a potential solution.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House on October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki spoke about the ongoing bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiations. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

"I'm not taking any options on or off the table. This is an ongoing negotiation," Psaki said. "And obviously each of the senators or members who are part of the negotiations can speak for themselves and what they are for or against at this point in the process."

Biden’s energy proposals have emerged as a key point of contention between moderates and progressives. House progressive leaders have urged Democratic leadership not to reduce the scope of Biden’s spending plan to placate moderates, while Senate moderates say they will not support the bill without significant cuts to its overall cost.


President Joe Biden holds his face mask and waves as he exits Air Force One at Capital Region International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci / AP Newsroom)


Democratic leaders have set an Oct. 31 deadline to reach an agreement toward passage of both the spending bill and a separate $1.2 bipartisan infrastructure deal focused on physical projects.