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GOP Blocks Bill to Keep Govt Open, Manchin & Sinema to Meet With POTUS to Trim $3.5T Plan

The bill Senate Republicans rejected Monday night would have funded government operations temporarily, to early December, while also providing emergency funds for Hurricane Ida and other disaster relief and for Afghan refugees. Republican leader Mitch McConnell rejected that approach because Democrats also included a provision to suspend the debt limit, which would allow continued borrowing to pay off the nation’s bills.

McConnell has said he wants to fund the government and prevent a devastating debt default, but wants to force Democrats to split the package in two and take the politically uncomfortable debt ceiling vote on their own.

 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-KY speaks to the media after a Republican policy luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 9, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, (D-AZ), are the linchpins for the final package. The two centrist lawmakers have balked at the price tag and are now under pressure to show President Biden what amount they could live with.

The President is expected to meet separately with Manchin and Sinema as he works to come up with a final number, according to a person familiar with the meetings and granted anonymity to discuss them. “In the next day or so we hope to come to a place where we can all move forward on that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol.

Speaker Pelosi said she had yet to hear a new topline figure from Manchin or Sinema, but indicated that she expects talks to start moving swiftly toward a conclusion that would enable passage of Biden’s package as well as a companion $1 trillion public works bill. “We have to see what comes of the negotiations that are going on — if they are worthy of the commitments we have made,” she said. “We will pass both bills.”

The behind-the-scenes talks come as Republican senators blocked a bill Monday to keep the government operating and allow federal borrowing. Democrats aiming to avert a shutdown pledged to try again — at the same time pressing ahead on President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan to reshape government. From free pre-kindergarten and child care subsidies for families with small children to dental care and hearing aids for seniors with Medicare, there’s a lot in the president’s proposal — all to be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy. With Republicans solidly opposed, Democrats are rushing to trim the total and win holdouts within their own party.

As the overall price tag comes down, Speaker Pelosi said the House Democrats would not move ahead on a bill until it is acceptable to their colleagues in the Senate. “We’re not there yet,” she said.

 

 



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