Despite the differences, the examiner said he felt the party was ‘very close to a deal’.
Sen. John Tester, D-Mont. told reporters on Thursday that he saw the Democratic consensus on a topline number for President Biden’s social spending bill as the key to reaching an agreement on its framework in the coming days.
President Biden and other Democratic leaders have led tense talks between progressives and moderates sans Joe Manchin and Kirsten Cinema over the spending bill. Despite the differences, Tester said he felt the party was “very close to making a deal,” with an agreement on an eventual price tag serving as the main remaining hurdle.
“That’s what will allow us to move forward. You get the top-line numbers, we’re off and running,” Tester told reporters.
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Munchkin has called on Democrats to make significant cuts to Biden’s social spending proposals and project a topline figure closer to $1.5 trillion, far less than the $3.5 trillion that the president and progressive allies initially envisioned. . House Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal and others have expressed optimism about the $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion deal.
Meanwhile, Biden has reportedly told lawmakers he is confident he can reach an agreement for topline numbers between $1.75 trillion and $1.9 trillion. Some of Biden’s favorite policies, including free community college tuition, are said to be in danger of being cut from the final bill.
The examiner said it was “absolutely” realistic for Democrats to reach a framework agreement by Friday.
Munchkin, a major holdout on the bill, was less optimistic about a deal by the end of the week. The West Virginia senator was involved in a heated meeting earlier this week with Progressive leader Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“I don’t see this happening,” he said.
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Democratic leaders are aiming to vote on a spending bill focused on physical projects and a separate $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill by October 31.