Manchin, Sinema sidestep saying if they support Biden framework

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), two key moderates, both sounded positive Thursday about their talks with the White House, but neither offered explicit support for the spending framework unveiled by President Biden.

Sinema, in a statement, said she and the White House “have made significant progress on the proposed budget reconciliation package.”

“I look forward to getting this done, expanding economic opportunities and helping everyday families get ahead,” she added.

Spokespeople for Sinema didn’t immediately respond to emails about if she supports the framework and her carefully worded statement doesn’t directly address the question.

Manchin, asked if he supports the framework, did a hard pivot.

“This is all in the hands of the House right now. I’ve worked on good faith and I look forward to continuing to work in good faith and that’s all I’m going to say,” Manchin told reporters.

Pressed if he was saying he wants them House to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin helped negotiate on Thursday, Manchin responded: “It’s in the hands of the House.”

The responses are unlikely to satisfy House progressives, who are under intense pressure from House leadership to help pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday.

Progressives have been pushing for public commitments from Manchin and Sinema. 

“I think before there is a vote in the House on the infrastructure bill, the members of the House have a right to know that 50 U.S. senators are supporting a strong reconciliation bill,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters Thursday.

The framework drops or scaled down several key progressive priorities including prescription drug negotiations, paid leave, expanding Medicare, free community college and a plan to target unrealized capital gains known as the billionaire tax.

The framework is also substantially smaller than the $3.5 trillion green lit under the budget resolution that paved the way for the spending deal. Progressives wanted a bill of $6 trillion, while Manchin put his top-line figure around $1.5 trillion.

A White House source told The Hill earlier Thursday that the framework was expected to win approval from all congressional Democrats.

But Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) indicated on Thursday that he didn’t know if Manchin and Sinema support the bill.

“I wish I could say yes, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty within the caucus as to what’s contained in the deal,” he said.

“I will tell you there is a will to do it. And I think a positive feeling among 48 senators; we’ve been waiting to satisfy two senators, I hope that we can do that soon,” he added.

Tags Bernie Sanders Build Back Better Dick Durbin Infrastructure Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema

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