Democratic leaders and the White House on Thursday put on the table a top line number of $2.1 trillion in an attempt to forge an agreement between moderates and progressives on passing President Biden’s agenda.
The proposal is fluid, but the number serves as the baseline officials are working off of in an effort to construct an agreement around the elements of climate, home and child care and health care, according to two people with knowledge of the efforts.
The idea isn’t to lock in a final specific list of policy provisions — and several different have been proposed as potentially in or out — but instead an effort coalesce behind what can be agreed on broadly within that spending level.
That rough sketch, however, wasn’t sitting well with Sen. Joe Manchin, who after two plus hours in his hideaway with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and then White House officials emerged around 10 p.m. ET to announce he saw no path forward on a deal Thursday night.,
“I’m at $1.5 trillion. I think $1.5 trillion does exactly what we need to do to take care of our children, take care of people at the end of life,” Manchin said.
White House officials have been clear behind closed doors, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations, that they need to see a number at or over $2 trillion in order to have any chance to bring progressives on board.
The working theory Manchin can be moved up (and his refusal to directly answer CNN’s Manu Raju about whether $1.5 trillion was his absolute ceiling was closely noted by White House officials), and progressives, knowing Manchin’s position, could come down given the stakes and, actual historic scale of even $2 trillion.
Manchin, even as he was walking out of a late-night meeting with Biden’s top negotiators, made clear he was still at $1.5 trillion.
No progressive has signed off on anything as low as $2 trillion at this point, and the public position has said nothing about a framework – only Senate action on an actual proposal.