Politics

Biden to meet with key moderate Democratic senator on infrastructure on Tuesday

Sinema, a moderate Democrat, is key to the President’s legislative agenda in an evenly split chamber where every Democratic vote is essential to pass Biden’s agenda. The meeting will come the day after the President met with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, another key moderate Democrat, for nearly an hour at the White House.

The meetings come amid a crucial week of negotiations at the White House, with Biden looking to garner bipartisan support on his roughly $2 trillion proposal designed to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and shift the nation to greener energy — one part of a $4 trillion economic proposal.

The Arizona senator, like Manchin, is a vocal opponent of changing the Senate’s rules to allow legislation to pass with a simple majority instead of the required 60-vote threshold needed to end debate, which could greatly affect the size and scope of Biden’s legislative agenda.

This opposition could block Democrats from passing Biden’s infrastructure and social welfare proposals using the same budget reconciliation process they used to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill without any Republican support. Democrats are still weighing how to move forward with Biden’s economic proposals.

The President will meet on Wednesday with the top four Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — for the first time since taking office.

In addition to meeting with Manchin, who is also the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Biden held a separate meeting on Tuesday with Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper. Carper will also play a central role in crafting the infrastructure bill in his role as the chairman of the Senate Environment and Works Committee and is a longtime ally of Biden.

Biden will also meet later this week with Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi to discuss infrastructure.

Republican senators led by Capito put forward a counter proposal to Biden’s infrastructure plan with a price tag in the neighborhood of $600 billion that focuses on roads, bridges and more traditional infrastructure. Republicans have taken issue with the size and scope of Biden’s infrastructure plan as well as the corporate tax hikes Biden has proposed as a way to pay for the plan.

Manchin has stated publicly he will not go along with any Democratic efforts to move forward on the infrastructure bill unless there is an effort to find a bipartisan deal. Biden has stressed he is willing to negotiate how to pay for his plan and wants to find a bipartisan path forward on the plan.

Biden’s conversation with Manchin on Tuesday dealt primarily with the need to rebuild key infrastructure nationwide, a White House official previously told CNN, a priority that both have made clear. The official said the conversation also had a keen focus on rural communities, which is a priority for Manchin.

CNN’s Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.

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