President Biden is slated to meet separately with Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday as he looks to sway two of Democrats' biggest holdouts on the party's sprawling tax and spending plan, according to a source familiar with the plans.
The meetings, which are set to take place at the White House, show that Biden is becoming more personally involved in negotiations amid a growing division among Democrats.
Both Manchin of West Virginia and Sinema of Arizona are crucial to the final outcome of the massive family and climate plan that Democrats are planning to pass using their extremely narrow majorities using budget reconciliation. The centrist Democrats have resisted spending as much as $3.5 trillion to establish paid family leave, expand public education and combat climate change.
With their incredibly slim congressional majorities – the party has no seats to spare in the Senate and just three in the House – Democrats face a delicate balancing act in approving the reconciliation measure along with a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill, or they risk losing the support of either moderate or progressive members.
At the heart of the division is a fight for control over the size and scope of the spending package. Progressives say that $3.5 trillion is the bare minimum needed to vastly expand the social safety net and combat climate change. Centrist Democrats, however, are wary of another multitrillion-dollar bill – funded by a bevy of new taxes, no less – after the coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. deficit to a record high.
"[Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer] will not have my vote on $3.5 [trillion] and Chuck knows that, and we've talked about this," Manchin said Sunday during an interview on CNN.
Other Democrats have blasted Manchin's comments.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other House progressives have threatened to torpedo a separate, bipartisan infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate unless its passage is explicitly tied to the larger reconciliation measure.
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report