President BidenJoe BidenBiden and Xi Jinping to hold virtual summit by end of this year Facebook whistleblower to meet with Jan. 6 committee: report On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Senate nears debt ceiling ceasefire MORE met with Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSanders declined to sign statement condemning protests against Sinema: report Graham opposes short-term debt hike, warns against being ‘held hostage’ to filibuster Schumer-McConnell debt hike talks spill into Thursday MORE (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-PierreKarine Jean-PierreBiden and Xi agree to abide by Taiwan agreement On The Money — Presented by NRHC — Democrats cross the debt ceiling Rubicon Biden backs Powell amid Warren criticism MORE 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 SinemaKyrsten SinemaSanders declined to sign statement condemning protests against Sinema: report Graham opposes short-term debt hike, warns against being ‘held hostage’ to filibuster Schumer-McConnell debt hike talks spill into Thursday MORE (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 PelosiNancy PelosiSanders declined to sign statement condemning protests against Sinema: report Pelosi’s office denies claims on Trump meeting from Grisham’s book Legislative limbo — how low can they go? MORE (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.