President Joe Biden’s expensive $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” domestic spending agenda has been stalled in the Senate due to objections raised by relatively moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
Sinema has reportedly informed the White House of how it can potentially win her vote, though, which involves assurance that the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill gets passed by the House first, RedState reported.
Except, a vote on that infrastructure bill, which passed the Senate a few months ago, has effectively been held hostage by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and progressives in order to maintain leverage on House moderates to support the larger domestic spending measure, meaning the current impasse has likely only become more deeply entrenched.
Off to Europe
Interestingly, that apparent ultimatum from Sen. Sinema came just prior to her leaving the country for Europe to help fundraise on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to the Daily Mail.
That means she isn’t in town to participate in the ongoing negotiations with either the White House or her Senate colleagues on the spending bill.
Further infuriating her critics is the fact that Sinema’s office also hasn’t provided an itinerary of her travel plans to the media — which means partisan reporters and activists can’t continue their pressure campaign against her while she is in Europe.
White House at a loss
Some of those critics have accused the Arizona Democrats of playing coy or being “mysterious” with regard to her objections and what she wants to see in the bill to win over her approval, but comments quoted of her by Politico Playbook earlier in the week would seem to contradict those critical claims.
“I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,” the outlet quoted her as telling another Democratic senator recently. “I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I communicated it to them in detail. They just don’t like what they’re hearing.”
However, the Playbook noted that changes to the spending bill intended to win over Sinema would likely be opposed by fellow holdout Sen. Manchin, and vice versa, leaving the Biden White House flummoxed as to what could possibly be done to gain the support of both of them without simultaneously losing the support of progressives who’ve backed the expensive and wide-ranging measure.
“Manchin and Sinema want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs,” a source close to Biden lamented to the outlet. “If you just took their currently presented red lines you wouldn’t have enough left to get this past progressives in the House and Senate. It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.”
For example, according to the source, Sinema objects to Medicare reforms on prescription drug pricing, something Manchin supports, albeit with certain caveats. At the same time, Sinema is supportive of a climate-related carbon taxing scheme that Manchin vehemently opposes.
“So, like where the hell is the overlap?” the source added of the “maddening” gap between the two senators. “How do you land that?”