WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden indirectly called out Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for holding up his legislative agenda on the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the larger social spending package.
Biden took questions from reporters after delivering remarks at the White House on Monday. He was asked why he was unable to close the deal with members of his own party on his legislative agenda during last week’s negotiations.
“I was able to close the deal with 99% of my party,” Biden answered as he held up two fingers. “Two. Two people.”
“It’s still underway — I don’t think there’s been a president who has been in a position where he’s able to close deals that have been in a position where he was only 50 votes in the senate and a bare majority in the House,” Biden added. “It’s a process. We’ll get it done.”
The reporter pressed Biden if he blamed Manchin and Sinema specifically for holding up his agenda. However, Biden refused to take the bait and publicly name them.
“Look, I need 50 votes in the Senate. I have 48,” he responded.
Biden’s remarks come after he spent the last week negotiating with congressional leaders to unite Democrats to get his agenda passed. Both Manchin and Sinema have refused to support the massive $3.5 trillion spending package due to its high price tag, which has not sat well with the progressive wing of the caucus. Manchin said Thursday he believes $1.5 trillion would be a more appropriate figure.
Some Democrats blamed Manchin and Sinema for holding the party hostage and causing confusion about what exactly they would support in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter on Monday he hopes Biden’s agenda is passed sooner rather than later.
“It is crucial that the House, Senate, and President come to a final agreement on the details of the Build Back Better Act as soon as possible, preferably within a matter of days, not weeks,” he wrote.
Both Manchin and Sinema have faced backlash from Democratic voters. Over the weekend, protesters showed up at Manchin’s yacht and immigration reform activists followed Sinema into the bathroom while she was at Arizona State University teaching a class.
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” Biden said when asked about the incidents. “The only people who it doesn’t happen to are those who have Secret Service standing around.”