Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, rejected Sen. Joe Manchin’s $1.5 trillion counteroffer to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, Politico reports.
Progressives last week blocked the House from voting on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin helped negotiate to pressure the Senate to agree on a deal to pass the Build Back Better package. Manchin, who had been hesitant to provide a top line number he would support, finally offered a $1.5 trillion price tag that Jayapal and progressives quickly rejected.
Manchin said Friday that he would support a bill that costs $1.5 trillion but did not rule out going higher.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has also balked at the price tag, doubled down on her position but did not say what she would support.
“Sen. Sinema said publicly more than two months ago, before Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, that she would not support a bill costing $3.5 trillion,” a spokesperson said in a statement posted on Twitter. “In August, she shared detailed concerns and priorities, including dollar figures, directly with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and the White House.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Jayapal told CNN of Manchin’s proposal on Sunday, calling it “too small to get our priorities in.”
“It’s never been about the price tag. It’s about what we want to deliver,” she said. “We’re not thinking about the number. And the president said this to us, too. He said, ‘Don’t start with the number. Start with what you’re for.’ And that's what he’s asked them for. And then, let’s come to the number from there. So, that’s how we’re thinking about it.”
Biden on Friday went to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass both bills and to urge progressives to support a number between $1.9 trillion and $2.3 trillion.
“I wrote the damn bill. … Even a smaller bill can make historic investments — historic investments in child care, day care, clean energy. You get a whole hell of a lot of things done,” he said.
Sinema pushes infrastructure vote:
Sinema criticized the House for delaying the infrastructure vote and said she would not support a deal that links the two bills even though that’s what Biden and Democratic leaders agreed on months earlier.
“Democratic leaders have made conflicting promises that could not all be kept — and have, at times, pretended that differences of opinion within our party did not exist, even when those disagreements were repeatedly made clear directly and publicly,” Sinema said.
“What Americans have seen instead is an ineffective stunt to gain leverage over a separate proposal,” she added. “I do not trade my vote for political favors — I vote based only on what is best for my state and the country. I have never, and would never, agree to any bargain that would hold one piece of legislation hostage to another.”
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also pushed back the timeline to pass the infrastructure bill to the end of October.
“There is an October 31st Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues. “We must pass BIF [bipartisan infrastructure framework] well before then – the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there.”