Biden, Manchin hold 'constructive' phone call on social spending bill

Democratic leaders want the Senate to pass their version of the “Build Back Better Act” by the end of the year

President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., pledged to continue negotiations following what both sides described as a productive phone call regarding the sweeping Democrat-backed social spending bill, according to statements from Manchin and the White House Monday.

Biden and Manchin held a phone call as Democratic leaders push for the Senate to pass their version of the "Build Back Better Act" by the end of the year. 

"Senator Manchin and President Biden had a productive conversation this afternoon. They will continue to talk over the coming days," Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon said in a statement.

US Senator Joe Manchin III (D-WV) walks the grounds of the White House, November 18, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

The White House said Biden and Manchin agreed to speak again soon.

"The President and Senator Manchin had a good, constructive phone call and agreed to follow up with one another in the coming days," White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell listens during an announcement at the South Court Auditorium of Eisenhower Executive Office Building on November 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (P (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Manchin and fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are considered key holdouts on Biden’s social spending bill. The West Virginia senator has repeatedly expressed concern about the legislation’s cost, warning a broad spending package would be fiscally irresponsible given rising inflation.

After the call, Manchin told reporters he and Biden had discussed "different iterations" of a bill. When asked about a potential vote by Christmas, Manchin said "anything’s possible."


UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 18: Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., arrives for a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup in Dirksen Building on Thursday, November 18, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The House passed its version of the Build Back Better Act last month in a party-line vote following months of negotiations with progressives and moderates. The Senate version is expected to contain changes, given opposition from Manchin and Sinema.

All 50 Democrats will have to support the bill to ensure its passage in the Senate.