Store is open: Joe Biden meets with centrist holdouts Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin SEPARATELY in bid to save his $3.5 trillion budget plan
- Biden scheduled meetings with centrist critics of his budget plan
- He needs support of both to get anything through the 50-50 Senate
- Sinema called her talk with Biden ‘productive’
- Manchin was set to meet with Biden in the evening
- He has refused to say he would support it and called for a ‘pause’
- Comes as House hashes out prescription drug benefit
President Joe Biden is sitting down Wednesday with two key Senate centrists with the ability to save – or kill – his $3.5 trillion budget plan, which includes a major medicare expansion, paid leave and other priorities.
The meetings are an effort to keep his signature proposals from going off the rails, after both Democrats raised complaints about the price tag – with Manchin using an op-ed to call for a ‘strategic pause.’
In a sign the White House is exploring ways to identify the demands of each lawmaker, the president is meeting with them separately, with Sinema getting face time in the morning, and Manchin on tap for an evening visit.
‘Today’s meeting was productive, and Kyrsten is continuing to work in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden as this legislation develops,’ her spokesman John LaBombard said in a statement.
President Joe Biden met with Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Wednesday as he seeks to get his $3.5 trillion budget bill back on track. He was to meet Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the evening
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki wouldn’t reveal substance of the talks when asked about them Wednesday, saying only they would discuss the ‘path forward.’
‘The president, correctly in my view, has left a lot of the legislative maneuvering so far to the speaker and leader Schumer, but as the process moves to the end stages it’s time for him to become a bit more publicly involved,’ Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid told DailyMail.com. ‘Presidents – and their staffs – are always trying to preserve the presidents capital for the tough stuff. Now is that time,’ he added.
It all comes at a time of deep splits within the Democratic Party over how big a package to send through the special budget ‘reconciliation’ process that protects it from a Senate GOP filibuster.
Democrats need every one of their members to back it, giving both Manchin and Sinema substantial leverage.
Manchin said over the weekend he would not support the $3.5 trillion package, and called for lest. Democrats were left fuming that he wouldn’t say what programs he wants to slice.
In the House, a trio of Democrats joined Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee to help bring down a bill that would seek to force drug makers to hold down prices and hold increases to the inflation rate.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have raised concerns about the budget’s price tag
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and Aurora James attend The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, September 13, 2021 in New York City. She retweeted a post that blasted a trio of Democrats who voted against a prescription drug proposal Wednesday
It failed on a 29-29 vote after defections by Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Scott Peters of California and Kathleen Rice of New York.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who trolled critics by wearing a ‘Tax the Rich’ dress to the Met gala, retweeted a post that said the trio ‘who just tanked the party’s signature drug pricing bill have received nearly $2 million in pharma contributions.’
But with the House Ways and Means Committee voting to advance the proposal, leaders will have to work through an intraparty split on a proposal that can bring in an estimated hundreds of billions in revenue to pay for programs in the budget.
Ways and Means is seeking to move $2 trillion in tax hikes to pay for some of the proposals in the budget package. Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is already calling the $3.5 trillion plan a compromise, having pushed for a $6 trillion package.