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Sinema enters Biden’s 3.5T budget battle armed with his own spreadsheets


Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) is negotiating the size and scope of President Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion budget plan armed with his own spreadsheets on the costs and tax hikes needed for each program, said to Axios people familiar with the matter.

Why is this important: As Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) draws attention for stepping back from a cost price of $ 3.5 trillion, Sinema’s focus on financial results will be just as important in winning the votes of them and other key Democrats.

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  • Sinema’s intense interest in numbers also suggests that she will be a formidable foil for progressives – like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – who are working to make the expense bill as big as possible.

  • “As she has said publicly, Senator Sinema will continue to work in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden as this legislation develops – and will take a close look at what committees are proposing,” John said. LaBombard, director of communications for Sinema.

The big picture: Despite the focus on Manchin, party leaders and the White House are aware of Sinema’s potential concerns.

  • By July, she was clear that the $ 3.5 trillion price tag was too high for her.

  • The lack of clarity on the duration of each program frustrated both senators and external budget groups.

  • The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget attempted to standardize the process and ended up pricing the reconciliation package at $ 5.5 trillion.

Between the lines: Sinema and Manchin are not necessarily on the same wavelength about the programs – and tax increases – they can afford.

In the wings: Sinema refers to her spreadsheets as she strategizes with her colleagues on the next steps in the budget process.

The bottom line: By internalizing the numbers, Sinema is prepared to question parts of Biden’s overall $ 3.5 trillion package.

  • It is also putting itself in a position to strike deals, as it did when it helped negotiate the two-party $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

  • He garnered 69 votes, including 19 Republicans, in the Senate last month.

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