President Joe Biden wasted little time launching a new charm offensive to win over centrist senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Both have repeatedly balked at the price tag for the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion economic package.
If Biden can’t win over either senator, the massive budget reconciliation bill has little chance of passing Congress. (New York Post)
The meetings come at a pivotal point for an agenda that Democrats hope will offer a lifeline to households and stymie Republican efforts to win control of Congress next year. Party leaders gave congressional committees a Wednesday deadline to write their portions of the bill, and they hope to send it to Biden’s desk in the coming weeks.
Democrats have to navigate a political maze before they can pass what they call the biggest investment in the social safety net in decades. While the party does not need a GOP vote to approve the bill through budget reconciliation, a single Democratic defection can sink it in the Senate, giving Manchin and Sinema massive leverage to shape the plan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., can lose only three votes in her caucus and pass the legislation. She has to balance the often competing interests of centrists wary of $3.5 trillion in spending and progressives who see the sum as a minimum investment.
The plan’s success has huge stakes for Biden, who has seen his approval ratings dip amid a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a coronavirus resurgence fueled by the delta variant. The president has cast his economic plan as a jolt to the working class and an overdue effort to mitigate climate change.