Warren Isn’t Budging On Reconciliation Topline: ‘Other Side’ Should Make Demands Clear

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a hearing before Senate Armed Services Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. ... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a hearing before Senate Armed Services Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building September 28, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing “to receive testimony on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 13, 2021 3:29 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on Wednesday signaled that she is not giving up on the reconciliation package’s $3.5 trillion topline, despite some Democratic leaders’ suggestions that a smaller price tag of $2 trillion would get centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to come around to supporting the sweeping legislation.

Appearing on ABC’s “The View,” Warren was asked whether she would support a bill in the $2 trillion range or would rather focus on “doing fewer things well” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested in a “Dear Colleague” letter issued Monday. (Pelosi, however, seemed to embrace the idea of shortening the duration of programs within the reconciliation package rather than chopping any of provisions outright during a press conference on Tuesday.)

Warren replied that she will not “negotiate against myself” while demanding that those on “the other side” — referring to Manchin and Sinema, both of whom continue to put up a fight over the reconciliation package’s price tag — make their demands clear.

“I want the folks on the other side to put on the table what they don’t want, what they want to cut,” Warren said. “Every time someone says to me, ‘well I don’t like that price tag,’ my answer is, ‘then tell me what you want to cut.’ Do you really say to the mommas of America, ‘you know, you don’t really need childcare. And keep in mind, with women out in the workforce, one out of four right now says the big problem (is) they don’t have affordable, accessible childcare. Are you really going to say to them ‘too bad’?”

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After expressing disbelief over the idea of failing to expand Medicare for seniors, Warren argued that Democrats need to hash out their needs in negotiations before a topline figure is determined.

“So start with what we need, tell me what you want to cut, and then we’ll figure out what the dollar is,” Warren said. “Because believe me, the billionaires and the giant corporations — there’s enough money there to cover the entire ticket and I believe we should pay for every single thing that we’re doing. Or should I say that the billionaires and the giant corporations should pay for what we’re doing.”

Warren’s comments echo Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) remarks to reporters on Tuesday during a press call with congressional progressives. Sanders reminded reporters that Democrats are still unclear on where Manchin and Sinema’s hard lines are. While Manchin has proposed a topline of $1.5 trillion, Sinema has yet to indicate her red lines for the reconciliation package.

“The time is now long overdue for Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema to tell us exactly … where do they want to cut?” Sanders said on Tuesday.

However, some progressives, such as Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), have come around to accepting the reality that centrist senators will likely force the reconciliation package’s price tag down.

“We do believe that you can significantly cut down on the price tag by funding some of these programs for a shorter period of time,” Jayapal said during an interview on the podcast “The Takeout” with CBS’ Major Garrett on Tuesday. “Make sure that the benefits are universal and accrued to people immediately — not in three years or five years — but something that people can tangibly feel right away. And then deal with the extension of those programs down the road when people see how transformative they are.”

Watch Warren’s remarks below:

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