Biden to meet House progressives on path to reconciliation package

Biden to meet House progressives on path to reconciliation package
© Greg Nash

President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE will meet Monday afternoon with House progressives in an effort to chart a path forward on a reconciliation package and see what measures can be agreed upon in a bill, the White House said.

Biden will meet virtually with progressive members of the House Democratic Caucus on Monday, followed later in the week by a virtual meeting with moderate lawmakers, press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRegional powers rally behind Taliban's request for humanitarian aid Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Biden, Democrats risk everything unless they follow the Clinton pivot (they won't) MORE said.

Monday's virtual discussion will focus on "the path forward, which includes the recognition that this package is going to be smaller than originally proposed. And what he wants to hear from them is what their priorities are, what their bottom lines are so he can play a constructive role in moving things forward."

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Biden's meetings are likely to focus on coming up with an acceptable top-line figure for a budget reconciliation package containing administration priorities like funding for health care programs, child care and climate change policies. 

Democrats originally proposed a $3.5 trillion package to include various spending measures, but moderate Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinK Street revenues boom Biden champions economic plan as Democrats scale back ambitions On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaPolice recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms MORE (D-Ariz.) balked at that number. Manchin said for the first time last week, following months of talks and negotiations, he would not be comfortable with more than $1.5 trillion in spending, a figure progressive House members have called inadequate.

Biden will attempt to unify the moderate and progressive wings amid disagreements over how to proceed and its final price tag. Moderates were frustrated last week when leaders punted on voting on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate. Progressives had threatened to sink the bill without more concrete assurances and voting first on the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

The president has spent significant time in recent weeks meeting with Manchin and Sinema working to get them on board for the reconciliation bill. Biden argued earlier Monday such tactics were necessary given the 50-50 split in the Senate between the two parties.

"We’re going to continue pressing forward until we get it done," Psaki said at Monday's briefing. "Yes it requires Sen. Sinema and Sen. Manchin moving forward and supporting a path forward. It also requires agreement on what a package would look like. So the president’s going to continue to work with a range of members from across the Democratic caucus."