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Manchin skeptical of billionaire’s tax proposal as Democrats push for deal

WASHINGTON – Sen. Joe Manchin failed to sign the Billionaire Tax Bill, a key part of Congressional Democrats’ efforts to strike a deal on a massive spending program on Wednesday.

The White House had hoped to conclude negotiations on the bill before President Joe Biden traveled to Europe for meetings with international leaders. But even as Democratic leaders optimistically signaled an imminent deal, key lawmakers said there were still major issues to be addressed.

“I don’t like the connotation that we are targeting different people. There are people who basically have contributed to society, they have created a lot of jobs, invested a lot of money and give a lot to activities. philanthropic, ”Manchin, DW.Va., when asked about the billionaire tax, told reporters Wednesday.

“But it’s about time we all got together and rowed together.”

A Manchin aide said he was in conflict with the idea but did not close the door.

Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said he was “optimistic” about progress towards the 50 Democrats winning over a plan to tax billionaires.

Wyden told reporters on Wednesday that he and Manchin were discussing the matter and agreed that “everyone should pay their fair share.” He added that “there has not been a single US senator” who said he “supported the idea that billionaires should not pay anything.”

White House officials are scheduled to meet with Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on Wednesday, two Democrats who have undermined Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposal.

Biden met the two senators at the White House on Tuesday.

Sinema ignored questions of whether she supported the billionaire tax.

Senator Mark Warner, D-Va., When asked about the billionaire tax, said “the devil is in the details.” The legislative text has not been fully fleshed out or evaluated by the non-partisan congressional scorer.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held on Capitol Hill with White House officials including Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council; Steve Ricchetti, advisor to the president; and Louisa Terrell, director of legislative affairs.

“An agreement is at arm’s length, and we hope to be able to reach a framework agreement by the end of today,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y.

Schumer added that Democrats “are going to make sure the tax system is very progressive and achieves our goals, and we find many different ways, and nothing has been left out.”

Although Manchin alarmed that he might not be willing to sign key items being negotiated, he expressed optimism that a deal could be within reach.

“Absolutely” a deal can be reached as early as Wednesday, Manchin told reporters. He added: “When I say okay, we have to move on.”

Manchin said he did not plan to meet with the president on Wednesday.

Moderate Democrats, particularly Manchin and Sinema, have challenged several aspects of Biden’s spending program and demanded a lower price than the $ 3.5 trillion originally envisioned in Congress.

The other problems concern paid family and medical leave. Manchin is also looking to health insurance vouchers to help cover annual dental costs, as well as to expand Medicaid in Republican-led states that have not extended coverage. Biden’s original proposal called for expanding Medicare coverage to include dental care.

The paid leave proposal “may be one that is in real trouble,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “We’re still trying to talk about it.”

Some Democrats have said too many key elements of Biden’s spending program have already been gutted to satisfy Manchin and Sinema. Further opposition to paid family leave, a priority for Biden and progressives, would be a major setback in negotiations over the bill.

Without any Republican support, Democrats cannot afford to lose any of their 50 votes in the Senate and must retain their slim majority in the House.

Biden told reporters earlier Monday that he “hopes” to reach agreement on the social policy bill before leaving this week for the G20 summit in Rome and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow , in Scotland.

“It would be very, very positive to do that before the trip,” Biden said.

Ali vitali and Julie tsirkin contributed.

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