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Biden’s other bipartisan outreach targets: Manchin and Sinema

What happens when you put Washington’s four most powerful lawmakers in the same room with the president? Not a lot.

“He wants things to happen, I agree with him,” Manchin added. When asked if Biden had raised Manchin’s opposition to raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, Manchin hinted that Biden knew better; and instead steered the conversation to where they had common ground.

“He understands. He knows everything. He knows what’s going on, trust me. He knows what’s going on,” Manchin said, adding that Biden understood the senator’s concerns about a dysfunctional and hyperpartisan Senate. “He knows my desire, my passion and my desire to try and make it work again.”

Biden also held a separate meeting with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), A longtime ally who chairs the Senate Environment and Labor Committee. Carper told reporters that part of his message to Biden was to follow through on his efforts to expand an infrastructure package to include funding for things like tackling climate change.

“We need to take a path, similar to what the committee sought to do 18 months ago, and not just focus on roads, highways, bridges,” Carper told Biden at the meeting. the White House.

As the president begins negotiations with the Republicans, starting today with the congressional leadership, and then Thursday with a group led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.V.), the White House stressed that the only lines Reds are inaction on the package and lifting taxes on those with incomes below the $ 400,000 threshold – something Biden vowed not to do during the presidential campaign.

Biden’s inner circle recognizes that Republicans are unwilling to extend the discussion far beyond so-called “hard” infrastructure like roads, bridges and tunnels. They largely avoided questions about how the two sides plan to bridge major divides, such as how to foot the bill. Republicans have been pushing for increased user fees instead of the corporate tax increases proposed by Biden.

“There are a lot of ways to approach a meeting like this, and the way the chair thinks about it is you can spend the whole meeting talking about areas of disagreement … or you can spend it.” looking for opportunities to find common ground and he will choose the latter, ”White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. “He hopes this can be a discussion of where we can find a common agreement, where there is an opportunity to find an agreement to move forward.”

Democrats see two ways forward on Biden’s massive $ 4 trillion infrastructure proposal. The first is to find ten Republican votes to forge a bipartisan agreement on the American plan for the employment of the president, which would include only the financing of so-called “hard” infrastructures, making it possible to avoid a filibuster and pass him to the agenda in the Senate.

Democrats would then move on their own to adopt the remaining initiatives, on everything from climate change and childcare to paid family leave, using the parliamentary procedure known as budget reconciliation, which only requires 50 voice. That, too, would require the support of Manchin and Sinema, and there is concern on the left that senators will be reluctant to pass another costly package after doing one on Covid relief and infrastructure.

The alternative, if the White House fails to convince Republicans, is to go it alone with only Democratic votes and push all their proposals through reconciliation in one piece of legislation. The White House has made it clear on several occasions that its first choice is to work with Republicans.

“Part of it is because they know they have another bite. It gets them in the mood for a deal, ”said Matt Bennett, co-founder of the centrist DC think tank Third Way. “Politically I think it’s very smart because how many voters are going to be able to analyze what was in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and what was in the only Democratic reconciliation? Not a lot. Outside of the POLITICO readership, it is quite rare. ”

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