Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) doubled down on her position not to support the Democratic leadership’s $3.5 trillion spending bill on Sept. 30, while claiming that she had raised concerns about the bill with Democratic leaders in August.
On Thursday, Sinema joined Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in indicating that they would not back the bill without adjustments. Both votes are critical to the bill’s passage, and they have long maintained that the price tag is too high.
Manchin said that he would not support any bill that costs more than $1.5 trillion, adding that if Democrats wanted to do more “they can run on the rest of it later,” and that “there’s many ways to get where they want to, just not [by] doing everything at one time.”
Manchin also said that he had shared his $1.5 trillion figure with President Joe Biden.
“Senator Sinema said publicly more than two months ago, before Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, that she would not support a bill costing $3.5 trillion,” Sinema’s office said in a statement shared on her Twitter account. “In August, she shared detailed concerns and priorities, including dollar figures, directly with Senate Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer and the White House.
“Claims that the Senator has not detailed her views to President Biden and Senator Schumer are false,” she added. “While we do not negotiate through the press—because Sen. Sinema respects the integrity of those direct negotiations—she continues to engage directly in good-faith discussions with both President Biden and Sen. Schumer to find common ground.”
The statement was in response to some Democrats calling for clarity from Manchin and Sinema after they had back-to-back meetings with President Joe Biden regarding the bill; stating they had no idea what both senators were asking for in negotiations.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) even went as far as to brand Manchin and Sinema “Republicans” during an interview with CNN while urging them to “be united behind the President’s agenda” and have “urgent conversations on how to get this agenda done.”
Manchin told reporters Wednesday that he believes the $1.5 trillion figure was the most the government could do without “jeopardiz[ing] our economy.”
He also noted it will take “a while” to work out the specific changes needed to pass the broad measures proposed in the Biden-backed “Build Back Better Act,” which was not drafted in a bipartisan fashion.
Manchin and Sinema’s votes are crucial to the passing of the trillion-dollar package which has repeatedly hit stalemates in Congress in recent weeks as Republicans and Democrats share differing views on everything from taxes, health, climate change as well as the overall price tag.
Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.