Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told moderate House Democrats Thursday that she would not support President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar social spending bill until a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure passes Congress, according to Reuters.
The wire service also reported that Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reassured House of Representatives lawmakers that they would not cave in the face of any artificial deadlines Senate leadership may impose in an effort to force a vote on the social spending package.
The support of Manchin and Sinema is a boost to moderate Democrats who have pushed the House to vote on the infrastructure deal, which the two moderate senators helped negotiate and which the Senate passed in August. The bill has stalled as progressive House Democrats demand that a $3.5 trillion social spending measure clear the House and Senate first.
On Oct. 1, Biden added to the muddle when he told House Democrats that the infrastructure measure would not move forward until agreement is reached on the final form of the social spending bill.
Congressional Democrats are trying to pass the larger measure through reconciliation, which means the bill only needs 51 votes to clear the Senate. However, with the chamber split 50-50, Manchin and Sinema have to be on board with any spending proposal to ensure the Democratic gambit succeeds.
While many pundits have focused on the evenly divided Senate, Democrats hold a mere eight-seat majority in the House — meaning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can only afford to have three Democrats vote against the reconciliation bill before that effort fails.
Sinema and Manchin have balked at the size of the social spending bill and insisted that it be pared down, with Manchin publicly suggesting that $1.5 trillion in new spending is the absolute most he would agree to. In his meeting with House Democrats Oct. 1, Biden suggested that the final price tag of the bill would come in at around $2 trillion.
Meanwhile, Politico reported Wednesday that negotiations between Manchin, Sinema and the White House are complicated by the differences between the two senators on issues like prescription drug pricing and climate change.
“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 outlet quoted a source close to Biden as saying. “It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Sinema had flown to Europe this week to help fundraise for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. On Monday, she attended the Boston Marathon — but did not run the 26.2-mile race as originally planned due to a broken foot.
The Arizona senator has been hounded by far-left activists in recent weeks due to her implacable stance against the current form of the social spending bill. Earlier this month, pro-immigration demonstrators interrupted a lecture she was giving at Arizona State University and followed her into a bathroom, where they harangued her through a stall door.