Biden Betting the Farm on Manchin, Sinema

Getting them on board with his $3.5T package is key for infrastructure bill, too
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2021 10:20 AM CDT
Biden Betting the Farm on Manchin, Sinema
This July 28, 2021, file photo shows Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

"Biden bets it all on unlocking the Manchinema puzzle" is Politico's assessment of the fate of the president's $3.5 trillion package to expand the social safety net. CBS News explains why: The bill has zero support from Republicans, meaning it can only pass via a budgetary process dubbed reconciliation that will allow it to squeak through the Senate with 50 votes versus the standard 60. With the Senate's 50-50 split, Biden needs every Democrat on board, and that's where Manchinema—that would be Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema—come in. They've both said they won't get behind the bill unless it's pared down, and that has Biden adopting the strategy of getting an "agreement framework" the two can live with, per Politico.

CBS News reports Biden met with Manchin and Sinema individually Tuesday; neither senator discussed their respective meeting's outcome. Sinema hasn't previously gotten into specifics about what she wants to see cut; Manchin has pointed to the bill's expansion of Medicare and some suggested climate spending as potentially problematic. But courting those two senators is just one strategic move in a larger legislative chess game: House progressives are stonewalling on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that already passed in the Senate, saying they won't move forward on it until the Senate votes on the larger package.

Biden's hope, per Politico, is that he can parade Manchin and Sinema's support in front of House progressives in hopes of getting them to "back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, even if it means the vote on reconciliation comes later." In a look at the $3.5 trillion package, the AP reports that one problem is that it's kind of "too big to describe," and that's a problem, with the public largely unaware of the many things it contains, from adding dental and vision benefits to Medicare to improved access to child care.

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It has this take from former Obama adviser David Axelrod: "This is a case where the parts are greater than the sum. It's important for people to know what the parts are, they are very popular and would have a very positive impact on people's life. But it's become a battle over price tag and that's unappealing. That's the battlefield where Republicans want Democrats to fight." (More President Biden stories.)

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