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Biden meets with Sinema and Manchin in bid to save spending package

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President Joe Biden is meeting Tuesday with two key Senate Democrats in a bid to pave the way for a deal on a social welfare spending package by a critical Thursday deadline.

Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are meeting with the president in separate meetings to discuss what it will take for them to back the massive spending package, aides confirmed.

The meetings come at a crucial moment and could determine whether Biden’s spending and infrastructure agenda can pass Congress.

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“They are critical,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told reporters who asked about the Senate centrists.

House Democrats plan to hold a vote later this week on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package Biden is eager to sign into law.

The measure so far lacks the votes to pass in the House, however. Liberal Democrats are insisting that Senate Democrats first agree to a deal on a massive social welfare spending package that has yet to be written.

Hoyer said he’s hoping to win over liberal Democrats by the planned Thursday vote if a framework and top-line spending agreement can be achieved among Senate Democrats.

“That will give confidence to some of our members that they can vote for moving forward,” said Hoyer on the infrastructure bill.

In addition to the infrastructure package, Democrats hope to spend up to $3.5 trillion on legislation that would provide a broad array of new government programs, including free preschool, free community healthcare, expanded Medicaid and Medicare benefits, extended child tax credits, paid family and medical leave, and green energy policies.

But Manchin and Sinema have balked at the cost and some of the provisions in the framework, including a provision that would allow the government to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices and a policy that would aim to end fossil fuel use.

Manchin and Sinema would be required to advance the bill in the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats plan to use a budgetary tactic that would require only a simple majority to pass it.

“They are both very important,” Hoyer said.

Neither chamber is expected to pass the social welfare spending package anytime soon, Hoyer said.

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If Senate and House Democrats can agree on a top-line spending figure, lawmakers will next have to divide up the funding for their policy priorities in legislation that has yet to be written.

“You’ve got to get a top number, and then what will that fund?” Hoyer said. "What resources are we willing to invest and expend to accomplish the objectives in terms of child care, tax credits, etc?”

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Tags: News, Congress, Biden Administration, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, government spending

Original Author: Susan Ferrechio

Original Location: Biden meets with Sinema and Manchin in bid to save spending package