Democrats are getting nervous that divergent demands between holdout Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema could derail negotiations over President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, Politico reports.
Manchin has been publicly pushing for a $1.5 trillion price tag in response to Biden’s $3.5 trillion proposal. But Sinema has not told her Senate allies what she would support, instead only talking to the White House.
“I'm not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,” Sinema told a Democratic senator, according to the report. “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.”
Manchin and Sinema at odds:
A Biden ally who has been in talks with the White House told Politico that Manchin and Sinema “want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs.”
“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,” the source told Politico. “It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.”
The biggest obstacle is Sinema’s opposition to the Democrats’ proposal to lower drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate costs. Democrats hope that the plan will raise about $500 billion in revenue to pay for other programs. Manchin supports the proposal but only with a tax on prescription opioids, which Sinema opposes. Democrats are hoping they can convince Sinema to support a watered-down version that would raise about $200 billion.
Manchin also opposes Democratic carbon tax proposals, which Sinema supports.
Manchin has also balked at the Democrats’ proposal to set clean energy standards, which would impact the coal industry in West Virginia.
Democrats proposed a program to subsidize those workers’ income when they transition to new jobs but Manchin “rejected it out of hand,” a source told Politico, calling the idea “welfare.”
“So, like where the hell is the overlap?” the Biden ally said. “How do you land that?”