Politics White House tries to lock down deal with Manchin, Sinema
Democrats' Feuds Over Biden's Plans Should Have Cooled During Recess. Instead They Heated Up
A recess this past week could have been an opportunity for Democrats to reach a deal on their sweeping agenda. But rifts only appeared to have deepened.But this past week, the opposite happened. Simmering feuds exploded in public, and rifts appear to have deepened ahead of Congress returning Monday with just two weeks before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's October 31 deadline to reach agreement on two bills at the heart of Biden's plans.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) met with White House officials for roughly two hours Wednesday, as Democrats race to try to lock down a deal on their social spending package.
Cutting a deal with the two key moderates would give a big boost to President Biden and Democratic leaders, who have struggled to break stalemates on key issues.
Manchin, who told reporters earlier Wednesday that Democrats should "absolutely" have a deal by the end of the day, indicated that they now needed to get feedback from the other 48 members of the caucus, who are at odds with the two moderates on several key issues.
Joe Manchin Isn’t Moved by Dem Attacks—He’s Emboldened By Them
When activists paddled their kayaks to Sen. Joe Manchin’s houseboat in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to protest the West Virginia Democrat’s opposition to a $3.5 trillion social welfare bill, what they encountered was a man very comfortable with being heckled. Like others who have pressured Manchin to reconsider—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and pretty much every other liberal activist and elected Democrat between them—these progressive pushers aren’t moving Manchin. In fact, they may just be stiffening his resolve.
"It would be nice if it does," Manchin said after the meeting, asked if a deal could come together today.
"It's up to-you know-everybody, the caucus, has to have their input. Everybody, there's 50 people," Manchin said.
Sinema added that negotiations were "doing great" and "making progress."
Democrats and the White House are scrambling to get an agreement before Biden leaves for an international trip with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)they could get a deal on a framework by the end of the day.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who was part of a bipartisan lunch Manchin and Sinema attended on Wednesday, said the two gave no indication that they had wrapped their negotiations with the White House.
"Not at all," Tester said, asked if Manchin and Sinema indicated that they were done talking with the White House.
Sinema blows up Dems' plans to tax high earners, corporations
“I don't know what the red lines are for one U.S. senator who has an amazing amount of power," Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said of the Arizona centrist.As they seek to finalize President Joe Biden’s social spending plan by the end of the week, Sinema (D-Ariz.) remains opposed to one of the party's chief goals of raising tax rates on high-income earners and corporations, a long-sought objective since former President Donald Trump signed his 2017 tax cut law.
But Democrats are still trying to work out several details.
Manchin has said that his preferred top-line figure is $1.5 trillion but Democrats are hoping to get him up to $1.75 trillion. That would be roughly half way to the $2 trillion range floated by the White House.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has proposed a so-called "billionaires tax," which would target unrealized assets.
But that'sand several other senators haven't yet bought in including Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
The fluid support could put pressure on Democrats to drop the provision from its package.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fumed on Wednesday over the tax setbacks.
"Every sensible revenue option seems to be destroyed... So it seems to me almost every sensible progressive revenue option that the President wants that the American people want that I want seems to be sabotaged," he told reporters.
Democrats are also still trying to get pared down plans to expand Medicare and allow drug pricing negotiations into the bill.
"I am working especially hard to strengthen Medicare and make prescription drugs more affordable. Senator Sanders has worked hard to push for many of these Medicare provisions and I support them," Schumer said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told reporters that she is also still trying to get a paid leave program into the bill.
"I'm working on the best, strongest, most robust plan I can with Joe Manchin, and hopefully he will accept my proposal, but I'm still working," she said.
Pro-pharma Democrats kill bill to lower drug costs — advocates ask: “What did they get for that?” .
How will Kyrsten Sinema be rewarded for killing off Democrats' prescription drug plan? History offers some clues Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., arrives for a senate vote in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, October 28, 2021.