Democrats point out to Manchin ‘lack of progress on spending

Democratic senators expressed their displeasure at a lunch meeting Tuesday with the senator. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money – Presented by Citi – Progressive pulls on Manchin and warns of Cori Bush tearing Manchin to pieces against opposition to money bills: ‘Anti-black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant’ Overnight Energy & Environment – Presented by The American Petroleum Institute – Glasgow Summit Starts MORE (DW.Va.) and with the lack of progress on the $ 1.75 trillion climate and social spending plan remaining in limbo due to Manchin’s objections to a number of issues.

Democratic lawmakers said they gave Manchin an ear after he accused his colleagues on Monday of using “must-play and budget gimmicks” to mask the true cost of the legislation and then rubbed salt on the wound by declaring on Tuesday that he not in a hurry to get a deal. .

Senators did not address Manchin’s defiant press conference directly, but they did let him know that the pulling nature of the talks, in which he is a key player, is a major issue.

“There is a huge frustration over the slow pace. We need to get this resolved and done,” said a Democratic senator who summed up the meeting.

While Democratic leaders set a goal of getting a framework agreement by the end of October, senators say it is becoming clear that a bill is still weeks from being finalized.

“There is a huge complexity in the climate thing, the drug thing, the tax regulations. None of that has been established, so we know we are far from having a bill we can vote on,” the senator added.

Another Democratic senator who attended Tuesday’s lunch said colleagues are saddened that priorities they have been working on for years, such as a nationally paid family leave program or the extended child tax deduction, are being rejected or curtailed because of Manchin’s concerns.

Their sense of frustration is heightened when they see Manchin having enormous power over issues that they feel he is less familiar with than they are.

Dens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandBiden kicks off with high stakes on spending framework Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate Democrats seek adjustments to .75T framework MORE (DN.Y.) said that Manchin’s position that a nationally paid leave program should be adopted with Republican support under general order and omitted from the reconciliation package did not make much sense.

“I think he does not understand the whole dynamic of each of the senators who are interested in paid leave and what they each want,” she said. “I’ve been working with these senators on this for five years, and he’s just getting read into it today. So he’s not as aware of their views and what they want as I am.”

Gillibrand was spotted chasing Manchin around the Senate floor on Tuesday, making repeated attempts to convince him to support compromise language on paid family leave, despite Manchin telling her “I’m done,” according to a senator who witnessed the exchange.

To add to their anger, Democratic senators are complaining that Manchin has not yet signaled that he will support the final version of the Build Back Better Act that emerges, despite optimistic statements from President BidenJoe BidenBiden Administration Aiming for Methane Emissions McConnell Blows Up Potential Payments to Separate Migrant Families Poll: 50 Percent of Republicans Do Not Think Their Voice Will Be Exactly MORE.

“I think we’re going to be in great shape,” Biden predicted confidently after visiting Capitol Hill on Thursday, the same day the White House unveiled a $ 1.75 trillion cap after weeks of intense talks with Manchin and the centrist. Late. Kyrsten CinemaKyrsten SinemaCori Bush tears Manchin to pieces for opposition to money bills: ‘Anti-black, anti-children, anti-woman and anti-immigrant’ Manchin frustrates Democrats with recent White House outburst ‘safe’ Manchin wants to support reconciliation framework MORE (D-Ariz.), The Senate’s two most important holdouts.

Biden doubled his prediction on Tuesday when he told reporters covering his visit to the COP26 climate conference in Scotland: “I believe Joe will be there.”

The president said Manchin “will vote for this if we have in this proposal what he expected.”

But Manchin on Tuesday punctured any impression that he tacitly supported the White House framework, even though it was tailored to meet his concerns about the total cost, Medicare expansion and a national family program with paid leave.

Manchin told reporters he never signed the proposal, adding: “I just think it will take a while” to get a deal.

It landed with a bang among Democratic senators who last month set a target of October 22 to get a framework agreement with Manchin.

Among other provisions, Democrats want to add language to the bill, which would give legal status to millions of unauthorized immigrants, and originally hoped to give Medicare broad authority to negotiate lower prices for a wide range of drugs – but none of the goals are considered to be probable. met at this time.

Democrats announced Tuesday that they had reached an agreement on the pricing of prescription drugs, which advocates call a step forward, but which is markedly less far-reaching than previous proposals.

Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders strikes back at Manchin’s spending worries Manchin is frustrating Democrats with the recent outburst. Democrats rushed to reach agreement on prescription drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) Did not immediately approve the deal, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for a limited number of drugs and set a ceiling on the out-of-pocket costs for seniors at Medicare.

“Let me take one last look at it,” he said.

Sanders argued at Tuesday’s lunch that the bill should be as “strong” and “robust” as possible, according to a senator at the meeting.

Leader of the Senate majority Charles SchumerChuck Schumer Democrats face anger over women over loss of paid leave Ocasio-Cortez presses Biden on student debt: ‘Does not need Manchin’s permission for the’ 535 ‘presidents’ with the veto: Why budget agreement remains intangible MORE (DN.Y.) acknowledged on Tuesday that the prescription drug deal does not go as far as many of his Democratic colleagues want, but nonetheless hailed the compromise as “a major step in helping the American people deal with the price of drugs” . “

With anxiety and irritation rising within his caucus over slow progress, Schumer was under pressure to show progress on a major issue, Democratic senators said.

“By authorizing Medicare to directly negotiate prices in Part B and Part D, this agreement will directly reduce the cost of medicines for millions of patients each time they visit the pharmacy or doctor,” Schumer told reporters after the caucus meeting.

But if the deal holds, Medicare’s negotiating authority over drug prices will be much narrower than what Sanders and other proponents called for at the start of the debate.

They initially envisioned saving between $ 500 billion and $ 700 billion by authorizing the federal government to negotiate lower prices. Now the savings are expected to be a fraction of that amount.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” said a third senator who attended Tuesday’s lunch. “There’s frustration over special issues like immigration and prescription drugs, and then there’s frustration over Manchin.”

The senator explained that colleagues are getting angry at Manchin because “no one knows what his final position will be.”

“There are many angry members,” the senator added, arguing that a compromise reached between Democratic leaders and Sinema on a proposal to lower the cost of prescription drugs “is nowhere near what I thought we should have. done. “

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