Administration

Biden, Manchin huddle on reconciliation

President Biden met with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday about his economic agenda as the president tries to unify Democrats behind a compromise reconciliation package containing many of his priorities.

The White House confirmed the meeting, which took place privately before Biden headed to Chicago for an event to promote coronavirus vaccinations Thursday afternoon.

“The president and Senator Manchin had a good conversation about the president’s Build Back Better agenda,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. “We’re staying in close touch about this. We’re talking to him and also his team. I don’t have specifics about the meeting beyond that.”

A spokesperson for Manchin declined to offer any details on the meeting, which took place at the White House.

Manchin is one of two key moderate senators that Democrats are trying to get on board to pass the reconciliation package, which is expected to contain provisions addressing climate change, expanding access to education, childcare, and healthcare, and creating a new paid leave program.

Both Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have expressed misgivings with the price tag of the legislation — a sum of up to $3.5 trillion. After initially floating $1.5 trillion, Manchin earlier this week opened the door to a reconciliation package costing as much as $2.2 trillion.

Biden told reporters earlier this week that he believed Manchin was “moving.” Biden also indicated he would sign a reconciliation bill if it contained the controversial Hyde Amendment — a demand of Manchin’s that has generated opposition from other members of the party.

“What I’ve asked Senator Manchin, as well as Senator Sinema, to do is decide what it is they like in the Build Back Better and then move from there,” Biden told reporters earlier this week when asked about negotiations with the two moderate senators.

Sinema has not publicly floated a price tag she could support, leading to frustration among some Democrats. Progressive activists sought to put pressure on Sinema over the weekend by following her into a bathroom at Arizona State University and demanding she support the reconciliation bill.

Asked Thursday if Biden has plans to meet with Sinema, Jean-Pierre said only that the White House remains “in close touch” with the Arizona senator and her team.

“We’re operating in good faith here with her,” Jean-Pierre said, adding: “We’re in touch with many of the members and senators.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) delayed a vote last week on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill negotiated by Biden as progressive lawmakers pledged to vote against it unless the reconciliation bill also moved along.

Pelosi has now set a new, end-of-October deadline for approving the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. It’s unclear, however, if Democrats will meet that self-imposed deadline.

Tags Joe Biden Joe Manchin Karine Jean-Pierre Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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