Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Sunday said that President Biden “agrees with” the reconciliation package’s $3.5 trillion price tag after she reportedly urged him against straying too far from that figure amid centrists putting up a fight over it.
During an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Jayapal said that she had told Biden his newly proposed range of $1.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion amid negotiations with moderate Democrats was “too low” and that she “would really like to be closer to three.”
Jayapal, however, said she wasn’t “drawing any red lines” in their discussions.
Pressed on how the President received her remarks during an interview on MSNBC, Jayapal replied that Biden “agrees with the $3.5 trillion number.”
“Remember, this is the Biden agenda. As he keeps reminding the country, this is a zero dollar bill at the end of the day,” Jayapal said. “If you look at $3.5 trillion, it’s over 10 years. Per year, it’s 1.5% of GDP, so the President is with us on this.”
Jayapal added that “98% of us are together,” referring to centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), both of whom continue to put up a fight over the reconciliation package’s price tag.
“There’s just two senators that are saying that they think it’s too much,” Jayapal said. “I think it’s really important for us to remember that the price tag comes out of what we want to do.”
Jayapal then pointed to progressive priorities such as universal child care, fighting climate change, health care accessibility for seniors and immigration reform.
“Those are the priorities of the progressive caucus and they’re the priorities of the President,” Jayapal said. “That’s the President’s Build Back Better agenda.”
Asked about the priorities of Manchin and Sinema, Jayapal replied that she has spoken with Sinema, but declined to provide further details.
“I think this is the part that is frustrating for a lot of people. All of us. Because the two of them don’t have the same priorities,” Jayapal said. “You know, one of them is very much fine with the tax pieces, for example, of making wealthiest corporations and individuals pay their fair share … One, however, does not really support that. One supports prescription drug pricing negotiations so Americans don’t have to pay more. The other one really doesn’t support that.”
Jayapal argued that because neither Manchin nor Sinema have publicly stated their differences, the challenge of pushing the reconciliation package remains.
“The two of them don’t agree with each other yet. And 98% of us do,” Jayapal said. “And agree with the President, agree with ourselves, agree with the American people. That’s the challenge we’re facing right now.”
Watch Jayapal’s remarks below: