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Joe Biden blames Manchin and Sinema for blocking $3.5T budget package in Senate


President Joe Biden on Monday cast the blame squarely on two Democratic senators for his inability to pass his $3.5 trillion budget package of social programs.

Biden didn’t call out West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema by name but it was clear who he meant when he pointed out he was short two Democratic votes in the Senate.  

‘They need 50 votes in the Senate,’ he said of Democrats. ‘I have 48.’

Both Manchin and Sinema have objected to the $3.5 trillion price tag. The president, congressional leaders and White House staff have been in negotiations with the two of them as Biden tries to pass his legislative agenda. 

‘I’ve been able to close the deal with 99% of my party – two, two people,’ Biden told reporters at the White House after he made comments on the debt ceiling.

He argued he’s been dealt a tough hand: the evenly divided 50-50 Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie breaking vote and the House, where Democrats hold a scant four-seat majority, giving them little margin for defectors.

‘I don’t think there’s been a president who’s been able to close deals who has been a position where he has only 50 votes in the Senate, and a bare majority in the House,’ he said, adding ‘it’s a process. We’ll get it done.’ 

President Joe Biden cast the blame squarely on two Democratic senators – Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin – for his inability to pass his $3.5 trillion budget package

Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin want Biden to lower the price tag on his $3.5 trillion budget package

Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin want Biden to lower the price tag on his $3.5 trillion budget package  

Biden ran for president on his ability to make deals and touting his legislative experience.

Now he is balancing a legislative tight rope. 

Progressives in the House are refusing to support his bipartisan $1.1 trillion infrastructure plan unless the $3.5 trillion budget package passes the Senate. But Manchin and Sinema won’t vote for that package at the $3.5 trillion number.

Hours of talks last week, which went late into the night in the dark, dimmly lit basement in the Capitol, failed to produce a deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to buy the president time postponing a planned Monday vote on the infrastructure bill to Thursday – then holding the legislative session open into Friday – but to no avail. 

So Biden trekked up to Capitol Hill on Friday afternoon, where, behind closed doors, he pleaded with liberals in his party to come down by more than a trillion dollars and support a $2 trillion package.

And he’ll fly to Michigan on Tuesday to start a nation-wide sales pitch.  

He declined to name a specific number for his social agenda on Monday, saying  ‘I’m not going to negotiate in public.’

He conceded, however, that the $3.5 trillion figure is a no go and the legislation will pass at a lower price point. 

‘Well I laid out what I thought it should be. It’s not going to be that. It’s going to be less,’ he said. 

Tensions are growing among the two wings of the party. 

After Biden made his private plea to Democrats during the Capitol Hill visit, House lawmakers grumbled about the two senators.

‘Manchin and Sinema — should we just call them co-president at this point,’ grumbled one Democrat leaving the meeting, according to The Hill. ‘Is that what it’s come down to?’ 

A group of activists followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University on Friday

A group of activists followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University on Friday

Sen. Joe Manchin addresses kayak protesters who swarmed his houseboat in Washington D.C.

Sen. Joe Manchin addresses kayak protesters who swarmed his houseboat in Washington D.C.

Protesters kayaked to the ship to ask why their senator would not support his own party's $3.5 trillion infrustructe bill

Protesters kayaked to the ship to ask why their senator would not support his own party’s $3.5 trillion infrustructe bill 

Manchin and Sinema have been getting slammed by liberals for not publicly naming a price tag. After a flurry of criticism last week, Manchin said he’d support a $1.5 trillion package while Sinema refused to devulge her number but said she had privately told it to Biden and congressional leaders.

Both senators have also been the target of liberal activists.  A group of them followed Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University on Friday. She was also lampooned on Saturday Night Live over the weekend. Meawhile, a flotilla of kayak-activists recently swarmed Manchin’s D.C. houseboat.

Biden said he didn’t think the actions of the activists were appropriate but shrugged them off, saying it’s ‘part of the process.’ 

‘I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics but it happens to everybody. The only people doesn’t happen to people who have Secret Service standing around them. So it’s part of the process,’ he said. 

Sinema also released a statement blasting the activists, saying it ‘was not legitimate protest.’ She noted the activists interrupted a class she teaches at the university. 

‘It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom,’ she said. 

Meanwhile, Biden told House Democrats on Friday he expects the overall tab on his budget package – which includes funding for expansive new education, health and climate programs – to fall between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Talks are ongoing.

‘There’s no number on the table yet that everyone has agreed to,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. 

‘This is the beginning of a negotiation,’ she noted. 



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