Reviews | How to Improve Bill Manchin

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Suppose Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) signals her support for the massive tax and spending bill passed last week by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) and Senator Joe Manchin III (DW .Virginia.). It’s not safe, of course, but party pressure on Sinema is likely to have an impact. Then an open amendment process begins in which Republicans can propose their own amendments. If Republican senators stick together, hold their 50 votes, and find a single Democrat to support one or more of their successful amendments all the way to the Senate finish line and the “wraparound” amendment typically used to remove the “symbolic vote” amendments, the real changes will be included in any final measures sent to the House.

Most “poison pill” amendments – designed to kill a much larger amount before the final pass – are normally a waste of time. But one can easily see four amendments Republicans should try to add to the Schumer-Manchin bill that could survive the final hurdle if attention focuses on them.

First, look to the Pacific. “Reconciliation” – the name of the legislative process under which this huge bill proceeds – should redirect some of the unprecedented largesse flowing out of the Treasury to the two classes of new submarines we must have – and the shipyards who build and maintain them. While increasing the number of sailors essential to the long coming conflict with China, lawmakers should reduce the structure of military forces that are unsuited to the conflict in the Pacific. A NATO reinvigorated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine means the United States can act to fully fund its Pacific commitments. Our underground fleet is the future of great power competition. Reconciliation should – finally – put Congressional money where it has been for years: in the Navy, especially the Columbia-class submarines that will be the backbone of our future nuclear deterrent.

Second, condition federal funding for elementary and secondary schools on eliminating elementary education on divisive topics like human intimacy, gender, and race. These subjects are best taught in higher grades, and only when parents are fully informed. Public school teachers are public employees. Federal money comes with federal strings, and those strings should be used to limit the radical ideologues at work in public schools.

Third, to provide start-up funds for the construction and expansion of new charter schools – public and private, and yes, religious and secular – on an equal footing with funds for public schools. Republicans will have a hard time persuading the Senate congressman to decide that such an amendment is relevant to a tax and spending bill, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Capital expenditures for buildings count as infrastructure, and small deductions from the other billions should pass the test. The same goes for reallocating existing federal funding from some Department of Education boondoggles to begin with. Along the way, it would be wise to take steps to force the federal government to stop the “woke” movement from seeping more and more into K-12 curricula.

Finally, the Schumer-Manchin compromise is allegedly a huge boost in tackling global climate change. On closer inspection, this appears to be a huge push to bail out early investors in green technologies for which no standalone market has materialized. Cut some of the billions about to be wasted and put in place the technology that will actually reduce harmful emissions: a new nuclear plant in every state.

Manchin gave in to his party. Sinema will probably follow. But the latest development in Democratic spending is a huge opportunity for the GOP to define the fall campaign beyond President Biden’s many overt failures. If the GOP uses the coming weeks to demand more spending on our Navy and for alternatives to public schools and to take a strong stand in favor of nuclear power that will keep our homes lit and warm for generations to come, the Manchin’s meltdown may provide even more GOP definition for the fall campaign.

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