Manchin on finishing agenda by Halloween: 'I don't know how that would happen'

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin 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 (D-W.Va) appeared skeptical on Monday that Democrats would be able to meet their self-imposed deadline to get a Senate-passed infrastructure bill and a sweeping social spending bill to 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 desk by the end of the month.

"There is an awful lot going on. I don't know how that would happen," Manchin told reporters, asked about the Oct. 31 deadline for the two-part package.

Manchin added that the White House and congressional Democrats still needed to come to a "meeting of the minds" and once and if that happens "you might be able to work it out."

ADVERTISEMENT

Manchin's comments come as Democrats are nearing the end-of-month deadline and struggling to break weeks of high-profile gridlock and infighting between not only moderates and progressives but the House and the Senate.

Both House 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.) and 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.) have publicly said they want to get the two-part package passed this month. That's driven in part by an end-of-October deadline for highways funding. Congress passed a one-month extension after the House failed to approve the Senate-passed infrastructure bill by the end of the month.

Virginia's gubernatorial race is also decided in early November. Some Democrats would like a vote on the infrastructure bill to give a boost to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Other Democrats however have signaled that they aren't married to that timeline, and they appear all but guaranteed to miss it. With just under two weeks to go, Democrats still haven't agreed to a top-line for the social spending bill and several crucial policy details remain unresolved.

House and Senate Democrats previously approved a budget resolution that lets them pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill without GOP support. But the White House and congressional leaders have acknowledged that the final bill is likely to be substantially smaller.

Democrats are increasingly going public with their calls for Manchin and 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.), who have both said they can't support a bill of $3.5 trillion, to detail what they can or can't support.

"I want to talk to Senator Manchin and see if I convince him that time is of the essence," said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinConservatives target Biden pick for New York district court Democrats, GOP pitch parliamentarian on immigration policies in spending bill Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill MORE (D-Ill.), asked about Manchin's skepticism of the end-of-the-month deadline.