Senator Joe Manchin said on Thursday that he believed Democratic legislators were close to reaching an agreement on a top-line number for spending legislation that includes some of President Joe Biden's promised social initiatives.
After weeks of intraparty fighting between progressives and moderates, including Manchin, Democratic legislators have been attempting to reach an agreement to pass an infrastructure bill, as well as a social spending and climate change package, by cutting out certain long-promised social programs.
"We're looking at everything today and tomorrow and hopefully we can either have a framework: We agree or disagree and (it) is either irreconcilable or it is something we can work out," Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I think we are getting close to arranging a top-line, yes."
During a visit to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday night, Biden, a Democrat, stated that the social spending plan, along with a second $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, would create 2 million jobs annually for the next 20 years while not increasing deficit spending. The question of how to pay the bills remains unanswered, especially after the White House warned some Democrats this week that a plan to boost corporation taxes may be dead.
Manchin objected to the budget bill's original $3.5 trillion price estimate and has been pressing for cutbacks. When asked if he would accept the $1.9 trillion number proposed by certain progressive politicians, he responded, "Negotiations are ongoing."
Democratic Senator Jon Tester said legislators were close to reaching a top-line figure, which he said was more essential than a framework for an agreement. "I think that's what will allow us to move forward. You get the top-line number, we're off and running," Tester told reporters