President Joe Biden was reportedly “very frustrated” during a meeting Wednesday with Democrat leaders over party infighting on the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
“The president really wanted a top line and was clearly getting frustrated,” a source told Politico Playbook about the president’s summit with Democrats.
Biden, who apparently demanded a reconciliation price tag Democrat leaders can all rally behind, grew “very frustrated that they couldn’t announce a number today.” No consensus was apparently gained from the meeting.
As a result, Playbook notes that Biden’s “biggest takeaway” was that the price tag of the $3.5 trillion package will be reduced to suit the temperate Democrats. Those meeting with Biden, eager to hold sway over negotiations, were 11 Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).
“Give me a number, and tell me what you can live with and what you can’t,” Manchin told Playbook about Biden’s demands. But Biden reportedly refused to give his number and pushed the question back on the congressional Democrats.
The price tag involves far-left’s demands to expand Medicaid and Medicare while more temperate Democrats want modifications to the package’s tax provisions.
“Probably [the president] and I are in a different place on that,” Manchin told the publication.
The meeting concluded with Biden suggesting they come back with “a set of principles or framework for reconciliation that will persuade progressives to back down from their threat to kill” the $1.2 trillion “bipartisan” infrastructure bill on Monday.
“The goal is to try to get a framework before the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MO) told Playbook after he left the White House.
“He was very good in how he handled it,” Manchin said about Biden during the meeting. “Being a former senator and understanding this process really gave him the ability to have the understanding and empathy of what everybody goes through and the ways people are tugged and pulled.”
Both moderate and far-left Democrats will now continue negotiations on the price tag with an outlined framework due by Monday; that way Democrats can attempt to vote on the $1.2 trillion “bipartisan” infrastructure bill with complete Democrat support.
But complete Democrat unity will entail one faction of the Democrat party bending to the other. Historically, the far-left has kneeled to the moderates.
“My hope is that that vote will be delayed. If it’s not, [the 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill] should be defeated,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said after meeting with Biden Wednesday. “Both bills have got to go forward.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø