Pelosi: Democrats within striking distance of deal

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight On The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House sets up Senate shutdown showdown MORE (D-Calif.) said Friday that Democrats are within striking distance of winning a long-sought agreement on President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE's sweeping domestic agenda.

Returning to the Capitol from a White House breakfast with the president, the Speaker said there are "a couple outstanding issues" to iron out in the health care arena but that the environmental aspects of the bill "are resolved" and she's "optimistic" that a deal is close. 

"We're in good shape. We're moving along," Pelosi said.

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"We had a very positive meeting this morning; I'm very optimistic," she added. "It's exciting, because whatever it is, it's going to be bigger than anything we've ever done for the American people."  

A short time later, after huddling with House Democrats during a Friday morning vote, Pelosi estimated that "more than 90 percent of everything is agreed to."  

Pelosi and President Biden were joined Friday by Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerProgressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan Collins says she supports legislation putting Roe v. Wade protections into law Biden should seek some ideological diversity MORE (D-N.Y.), who participated in the discussion remotely. The leaders are scrambling to secure an agreement on a massive social spending package at the center of Biden's economic agenda, which includes a broad expansion of health care benefits, safety net programs and efforts to combat climate change.

A key barrier to a deal has emerged in recent days in the form of Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaBiden should seek some ideological diversity Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Pence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin MORE (D-Ariz.), whose opposition to tax hikes on corporations and wealthy individuals — big revenue-raisers that were included in the Democrats' initial $3.5 trillion package — has forced party leaders to seek offsets elsewhere.

Appearing at a CNN town hall Thursday night, Biden had laid out the latest developments in those talks, suggesting that Sinema's position would prevent Democrats from including those funding sources in the final package.

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Pelosi on Friday downplayed those divisions, noting that House Democrats had already proposed trillions of dollars in new revenue as part of the $3.5 trillion package. Because the moderates have forced Biden to propose a much smaller price tag, in the range of $2 trillion, committee leaders — including Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealGOP fears boomerang as threat of government shutdown grows House passes giant social policy and climate measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay MORE (D-Mass.) of Ways and Means — simply need to choose which of those to implement in lieu of the tax hikes Sinema opposes, Pelosi said.

"We were ready with that, because we were at 3.5" trillion, Pelosi said. "So it's just a question of what we decide."

Pelosi declined to say if Democrats are far enough along to vote on the social benefits package, along with a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill, by the end of next week. Party leaders had set Oct. 31 as an informal timeline for staging those votes, since the authorization for federal highway funding expires the same day.

Pelosi said she'll discuss the timing with Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money — Congress races to keep the lights on House Democrats call on leaders to pass supply chain legislation War of words escalates in House MORE (D-Md.), who controls the House floor schedule, "and we'll see."

Asked if a deal is close, Pelosi said "it's very possible."

"Much of what we need to do has been written; it's just a few decisions now," she said.