Biden swipes at Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for holding up progress on his social spending plans

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President Joe Biden speaks about prescription drug prices and his „Build Back Better” agenda from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Washington.

Biden called out Manchin and Sinema for holding up progress on the bulk of his economic agenda.
„I was able to close the deal with 99% of my party,” Biden said, laughing and holding up two fingers. „Two. Two people.”
It underscores the outsized influence the centrist pair has over his plans to expand childcare, education, and healthcare.
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President Joe Biden swiped at Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Monday, indirectly blaming the centrist pair for delaying progress on his sprawling infrastructure and social spending plans.

„Why are you unable, Mr. President, to close the deal with members of your own party on key parts of your legislative agenda last week?”, a reporter asked Biden after he delivered remarks at the White House highlighting the urgency of raising the debt ceiling.

„I was able to close the deal with 99% of my party,” Biden said, laughing and holding up two fingers. „Two. Two people.”

-NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 4, 2021

„It’s still under way – I don’t think there’s been a president who has been in a position where he’s able to close deals that’s been in a position where he was only 50 votes in the senate and a bare majority in the House,” Biden added. „It’s a process. We’ll get it done.”

„It sounds like you’re squarely putting the blame on two Senators for your inability to close that deal – Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin,” the reporter pressed Biden. „Am I incorrect, is that who the blame lies with?”

„Look, I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48,” Biden responded.

Biden’s remarks underscore the outsized influence Manchin and Sinema wield over his plans to expand the social safety net as he relies on thin Democratic majorities to mold them into law. It’s critical for Senate Democrats to hold onto the pair’s votes because they need unanimity in their ranks to approve a $3.5 trillion social spending plan using a parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation.

Manchin and Sinema’s decisive roles in determining the fate of Biden’s economic agenda have made them major targets of public scrutiny and criticism from fellow Democrats and progressives. Last week, a progressive rebellion over the bigger social spending bill not having cleared the Senate led to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bailing on an infrastructure vote.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Some Democrats blamed Manchin and Sinema for not being clear about their policy priorities and causing confusion in the party. „They’ve made their case,” Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters on Thursday. „They should close this deal. Too much is at stake.”

The Arizona Democrat is pushing back. In a Thursday statement, Sinema refuted reporting in Politico suggesting she wanted to hold off on getting down to the finer details of the reconciliation package with the White House until the House votes on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in August.

„In August, she shared detailed concerns and priorities, including dollar figures, directly with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and the White House,” her office said. „Claims that the Senator has not detailed her views to President Biden and Senator Schumer are false.”

When another reporter tried to nail down an answer from Biden on whether Sinema had given the White House a specific number for the size of the reconciliation package, Biden said: „I’ll let her tell you that, we’re in negotiations,” adding, „I’m not going to negotiate in public.”

Biden was also asked whether recent instances of activists confronting Manchin and Sinema in public and at home were „out of bounds.”

Protesters with Greenpeace kayaked up to Manchin’s Washington, DC houseboat, Almost Heaven, to express their displeasure with his opposition to a $3.5 trillion reconciliation last week, and on Sunday, immigration reform activists confronted Sinema at Arizona State University where the senator teaches a class at the School of Social Work, going so far as to follow her into a women’s bathroom.

„I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” Biden said. „The only people who it doesn’t happen to are those who have Secret Service standing around.”

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