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Friday, May 27, 2022

Manchin cast doubt on deal this week for $3.5T spending bill

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Budget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden’s presidency Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo MORE (D-W.Va.) on Monday appeared to pour cold water on Democratic leadership’s hopes of reaching a deal on a sweeping spending bill in time for a Thursday vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill.

Manchin, asked if he considered Thursday a deadline for working out an agreement on the sweeping social spending package, appeared skeptical.

“I don’t know how you could. I don’t know. It’s so complicated and so convoluted. …We’re looking at every aspect we can. …We want to be fair with everybody,” Manchin said about having a deal on a framework for the bill worked out by Thursday.

Manchin told CNN earlier Monday that hitting a Thursday deadline would be a “heavy lift.”

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Pelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to her caucus on Sunday that the Senate-passed infrastructure bill will come up for a vote on Thursday. Democrats, according to her letter, would also “conclude negotiations on the Build Back Better Act” this week, referring to the $3.5 trillion social spending legislation that Democrats are still trying to craft.

But because Pelosi has committed to not making her caucus vote on a bill larger than what can pass the Senate, Democrats say they need Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBudget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden’s presidency Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Why Democrats opposing Biden’s tax plan have it wrong MORE (D-Ariz.) to detail what they can, and can’t, support in the larger package.

Pelosi can only afford to lose three members of her caucus in a vote on the larger package given her slim majority in the House.

Democrats are increasingly acknowledging that the $3.5 trillion top-line is likely to slip amid the pushback from moderates. President BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE, during the closed-door meeting last week, urged a group of moderates, including Manchin and Sinema, to come up with a number they could support.

Manchin hasn’t publicly said what top-line he would be willing to support, but is privately talking with Biden and the White House. Pressed on a $2 trillion topline, he told reporters: “No, I’m not answering you okay.”

But if House Democratic leadership moves forward with its plan to hold a vote this week on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, that will force progressives to decide if they will carry through with their plan to sink it.

Manchin said it would be a “shame” if progressives sink the infrastructure bill and predicted that it would pass—eventually.

“I guarantee you this, the infrastructure bill will be passed before November 2022,” he said.

A group of nine House moderates released a statement earlier Monday calling for the Senate-passed bill to be sent to Biden’s desk this week.

“Debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill begins today with a vote no later than Thursday. …It’s time to send the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the president’s desk for his signature,” they said.

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