House Democrats brush off Manchin

Democratic negotiators in the House say they’re on the brink of sealing a deal on President BidenJoe BidenFormer chairman of Wisconsin GOP party signals he will comply with Jan. 6 committee subpoena Romney tests positive for coronavirus Pelosi sidesteps progressives' March 1 deadline for Build Back Better MORE’s economic agenda despite Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi sidesteps progressives' March 1 deadline for Build Back Better On The Money — Fed's inflation tracker at fastest pace since '82 Billionaire GOP donor maxed out to Manchin following his Build Back Better opposition MORE (D-W.Va.) tossing a verbal hand grenade into the talks on Monday.

Democrats brushed aside concerns voiced by Manchin at a must-watch press conference that the $1.75 trillion package might exacerbate inflation, insisting the measure would improve the economy.

They also vowed to plow ahead with their strategy for moving both the broader spending bill and a separate bipartisan infrastructure measure through the House, effectively ignoring Manchin’s demand for a swift vote on the latter.

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“We intend to pass both bills through the House in the next couple of days,” Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi sidesteps progressives' March 1 deadline for Build Back Better Left says they're not to blame for Biden's problems On The Money — Economy had post-recession growth in 2021 MORE (D-Wash.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told CNN Monday not long after Manchin’s press conference.

Negotiators worked through the weekend and into Monday to iron out the last stubborn wrinkles in the $1.75 trillion plan — talks that seemed to focus most intently on a contentious provision to rein in prescription drug prices.

Jayapal said there are outstanding divisions remaining on the issues of prescription drug pricing, child care benefits and immigration. But she predicted those differences will be resolved in short order, emphasizing that she’ll trust Biden’s assurances regarding the Senate vote, even if Manchin declines to announce his backing publicly before the House votes.

“I believe that the president is speaking out of the experience that he has had of negotiating ... with these senators,” she said. “So I trust the president; he's going to deliver 51 votes. And I think we just need to bring all the temperature down a little bit.”

Other liberals quickly endorsed the calls for immediate votes on both bills.

“Pramila Jayapal is right. Let’s vote these two bills out of the House this week,” Rep. Mondaire JonesMondaire JonesOvernight Energy & Environment — Court nixes offshore drilling leases Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release McCarthy delays swift passage of spending plan with record-breaking floor speech MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted. 

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Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellProtecting seniors from guardianship fraud and abuse Nunes formally resigns from Congress Lawmakers in both parties to launch new push on Violence Against Women Act MORE (D-Mich.), a close ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi sidesteps progressives' March 1 deadline for Build Back Better Let's 'reimagine' political corruption Briahna Joy Gray discusses Pelosi's 2022 re-election announcement MORE (D-Calif.), also predicted that the negotiations are coming to a close.

“The discussions have been going on all weekend. It is going to take time for that language to be finished. And then many members have expressed wanting 72 hours to look at the language,” she said in an interview with MSNBC.

“I am hopeful — I think most are hopeful — that we will be able to do something by the end of the week."

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerClyburn calls for full-court press on voting rights Biden talks climate and child care provisions of Build Back Better agenda with top CEOs The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Russia attack 'would change the world' MORE (D-Md.), who sets the floor schedule, said Monday evening that votes are possible this week.

“We're working on it; we hope to get something more definite today. And if we do, we'll move forward,” Hoyer said.

Pelosi offered a similar message about the prospect of staging the votes before Congress leaves Washington at week's end for a long Veterans Day recess. “That is our hope,” she said.

The battle comes at a fraught time for Biden, who has seen his polling numbers tumble in recent months, and national Democrats, who have been worried about their eroding political fortunes.

Some Democratic lawmakers had pressed for a House vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill already approved by the Senate, believing doing so could help Biden and give a boost to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Virginia.

Liberals have refused to budge on an early vote on infrastructure, preferring to hold that measure back as leverage to get work done on the larger social spending and climate measure.

They have also pushed back at the idea that passing the infrastructure bill would make a huge difference in the Virginia race.

“This is not going to make a difference for McAuliffe,” said Rep. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezSixteen Hispanic House Democrats ask EPA for tougher methane rule Pressley offering measure condemning Boebert Democrats livid over GOP's COVID-19 attacks on Biden MORE (D-Calif.). “[The] tightness in his race, it's on him, not on congressional Democrats.”