Omar lashes out at Manchin as Biden tries to unite warring Dems on spending bill

Omar wasn't in meetings with Biden Tuesday, but some Democrats who were said reconciliation deal soon is possible

Progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar slammed moderate Sen. Joe Manchin Tuesday after he reiterated that he doesn't support a reconciliation package that costs more than $1.5 trillion, underscoring the deep division among Democrats over what they want in the bill.

"He is going to lower the number every time a reporter asks," Omar, D-Minn., said in response to a comment from Manchin, W.Va., on his preferred topline number – which is the same as it's been for months. "It’s all a joke to him. He isn’t negotiating, he is killing the bill and it’s time we all recognized it. Sadly, his shameful tactics will cost his constituents much needed investments for themselves and families."

But Omar's comment also came as both moderates and progressives who met with President Biden Tuesday expressed gratitude that he is getting more involved in negotiations on Democrats' legislative agenda. Many also expressed optimism about the chances of a deal coming together soon. 

House Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., was potentially the loudest of those voices. 


"The president is the inspirer, he is the closer, he is the convincer, the mediator in chief. He really is doing a phenomenal job," Jayapal said. 

"We had a really good productive meeting. Another productive meeting with the president, with the vice president, with Secretary Yellen," she added. "I think we all feel still even more optimistic about getting to an agreement on a really transformational bill"

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., another member of the Progressive Caucus, said on CNN Tuesday that he believes Democrats will be able to get all their members on board in the foreseeable future. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a centrist Democrat vital to the fate of President Biden's $3.5 government overhaul, speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (Associated Press)

"The president is working extremely hard. He and his administration are very committed to this. And, in Congress, our leadership and members, in our Progressive Caucus… we want to do it as soon as we possibly can," he said. "So we're hoping that the few holdouts that are still out there, the rest of us are rowing together. We just need them to pick out what kind of wood they want their oar made out of."

Progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also said she is "feeling better" about the prospects of an agreement among Democrats. 

Even moderate Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who suffered an embarrassing loss last month when he repeatedly claimed the bipartisan infrastructure bill would pass before progressives blocked it, said discussions with the president went well. 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., participates in the news conference on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Jayapal said she is optimistic about Democrats' ability to come to an agreement on their reconciliation bill. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via G (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images / Getty Images)


"It was a very productive session," Gottheimer said of the meeting. "I remain optimistic."

But Democrats still harbor massive disagreements on a wide range of policies, including child tax credit, whether programs should be means tested, climate policy and much more. And some of those who, like Omar, did not speak with the president Tuesday appeared to have a less rosy assessment of things. 

"Let's invite all the people to have never passed a bill that mattered, if they passed one at all!" Colin Strother, the campaign spokesman for moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said in reaction to the list of lawmakers who were invited to the White House. 

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., meanwhile outlined in a tweet why she believes "means testing is bad" – because it takes administrative effort to set up that could go to the program itself, and the administrative hoops could end up excluding Black Americans. 

President Biden holds his face mask and waves as he exits Air Force One at Capital Region International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Lansing, Michigan. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci / AP Newsroom)

"No means testing in Build Back Better," she said. 

There, however, will almost certainly be means testing in the spending bill at the demand of Manchin. So Bush will likely need to compromise on that and many other policy demands. It remains to be see if she and some of their fellow "Squad" members will be willing to do that. 


Manchin himself, who is in regular touch with the White House and top progressive Democrats, seemed to indicate Tuesday there is some hope for Democrats to agree on a reconciliation framework soon.

"Sure that's possible," Manchin said when asked if an agreement by the end of the week is in the cards. 

"We'll keep taking until we understand each other," he also said. 

FOX Business' Kelly Phares and Sally Persons contributed to this report.