The Sausage Making: Manchin And Sinema Continue To Be Difficult In Their Own Special Ways

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., board an elevator after a private meeting between the two of them on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 in Washington,... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., board an elevator after a private meeting between the two of them on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 15, 2021 5:57 p.m.

While Congress is in recess this week, we’ll be watching negotiations on the infrastructure bill and presenting them to you in an evening briefing. Check in here to find out how the sausage-making is shaping up. 

Things change, but much stays the same. As we close out the week of congressional recess, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) continue to do their level best to gut the reconciliation package of its major programs, or to shrink those programs to a husk of their former selves. 

Manchin reportedly told White House aides last week that he wouldn’t support the crux of Democrats’ climate plan in its current form, and sounded a lot like he wouldn’t support it in any form. He also told some Democrats on a call, per CNN, that he has beef with the expansion of Medicare to cover vision, hearing and dental, opposes paid family leave and medical leave proposals, rejects climate measures that would halve emissions by 2030 and is concerned about tuition-free community college. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), meanwhile, is reportedly blocking tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, one of the main ways Democrats would pay for the bill.

We’ve been waiting for weeks, months even, for indications that these two would negotiate with the rest of the Democrats. All signs indicate that they’re not. They’re listing the things they won’t vote for — and a large reconciliation package stuffed with potentially transformative programs on climate, poverty and health care seems to be on the list. 

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White House Says Hurry Up 

  • The White House is going public with its pressure on Congress to just act already. The negotiations have dragged on for a long time, and people are getting frustrated. The Biden administration wants a win.
  • Key quote: “Ultimately, we can’t do this forever. We’re not doing this forever,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of reconciliation negotiations on Pod Save America. “Time is running short. We’ve got to come to a time when we figure out what’s the best version we can get enough votes for that still has a historic impact.”

Admitting Defeat? 

  • One of the many things Sinema opposes is the uber popular proposal to lower Medicare prescription drug prices. At a live event in San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sounded like that fight is close to lost. 
  • “We’re still making that fight,” she told San Francisco radio channel KQED. “I’m not even sure we’ll even get it in this bill. We’ll get something of that, but it won’t be the complete package that many of us have been fighting for [for] a long time.”

Bernie Continues To Be Mad

  • At Manchin and Sinema:
  • At reporters:
  • But not at you, my faithful readers. Thanks for spending your congressional recess with us.
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