President Joe Biden hosted budget talks Sunday with two pivotal senator in hopes of resolving lingering disputes over Democrats’ long-stalled effort to craft an expansive social and environment measure.
The White House said the session with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was held at the president’s home in Delaware, where he was spending the weekend.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., two of their party’s most moderate members, have insisted on reducing the size of the package and have pressed for other changes.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was waiting for the Senate to wrap up talks on the framework and was expecting a plan to be introduced as early as Monday. Top Democrats are scrambling to act on legislation by week’s end so they can pass a separate, roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill by Oct. 31, when a series of transportation programs will lapse.
“I think we’re pretty much there,” said Pelosi, D-Calif., stressing that a few “last decisions” need to be made. “It is less than what was projected to begin with, but it’s still bigger than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America’s working families.”
Democrats initially planned that the measure would contain $3.5 trillion worth of spending and tax initiatives over 10 years. But demands by moderates led by Manchin and Sinema to contain costs mean its final price tag could well be less than $2 trillion.
Disputes remain over whether some priorities must be cut or excluded. These include plans to expand Medicare coverage, child care assistance and helping lower-income college students. Manchin, whose state has a major coal industry, has opposed proposals to penalize utilities that do not switch quickly to clean energy.