Moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has told the White House what she wants in President Joe Biden’s slimmed down spending package – and they’re not happy about it.
‘I have already told the White House what I am willing to do and what I’m not willing to do. I’m not mysterious. It’s not that I can’t make up my mind. I’m communicating it to them in detail. They just don’t like that they’re hearing,’ she recently told a Senate Democratic colleague, who then told Politico’s Playbook about the conversation.
Now with a debt ceiling crisis waved off until early December, the White House and Congress’ full attention can return to crafting what’s in the reconciliation bill, which Biden has conceded will no longer have a pricetag of $3.5 trillion.
Moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has told the White House what she wants in President Joe Biden’s slimmed down spending package, but has otherwise kept what she wants tight-lipped, not sharing her demands with colleagues
West Virginia moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (left) is a also negotiating with President Joe Biden (right) over what should be in the reconciliation package, though he’s been more forthcoming about his demands
Sinema and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remain the moderate hold-outs, but their priorities for what’s in the bill aren’t aligned.
Sinema’s comment to her colleague represents her beating back the perception that she’s playing coy about what she supports.
The Saturday Night Live version of her played up this narrative, with Cecily Strong’s character saying: ‘What do I want from this bill? I’ll never tell, because I didn’t come to Congress to make friends. So far, mission accomplished.’
But there’s truth in that, according to the colleague, who says Sinema won’t tell fellow lawmakers what she wants.
‘I’m not going to share with you or with Schumer or with Pelosi,’ Sinema told her Democratic colleague, according to Playbook.
‘Manchin and Sinema want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs,’ a souce close to Biden told Playbook. ‘If you just look at their currently presented red lines you wouldn’t have enough left to get this past progressives in the House and Senate. It wouldn’t raise enough money and it wouldn’t do enough big programs.’
Democratic sources said the biggest obstacle Sinema has created is over prescription drug pricing reform.
The boldest version of the plan allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices and brings in $800 billion from the pharmaceutical industry.
However, Democratic sources told Playbook that the White House would be lucky if they can convince Sinema to support a program that brings in $200 billion from the industry.
At that dollar amount, the expansion of Medicare that Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for, and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports, wouldn’t be paid for, Playbook noted.
At the same time, Manchin will support a drug pricing plan, but he wants to see a tax on prescription opioids – which is not supported by Sinema’s allies at PhRMA.
On climate, Manchin is opposed to pricing carbon pollution, while Sinema favors it.
Manchin also refuses to support subsidies for the West Virginia coal workers who will lose their incomes as the U.S. transitions to more green energy sources.
Sources told Politico Manchin ‘rejected it out of hand,’ calling it ‘welfare.’
‘So, like where the hell is the overlap?’ the source close to Biden told Playbook, describing the cap as ‘maddening.’ ‘How do you land that?’