President Biden met separately with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday, hoping to get their support for a sweeping bill focusing on health care, education, and climate change.
The price tag for the bill may reach $3.5 trillion, and with no Republicans backing it and the Senate evenly split at 50-50, the measure would have to be passed through reconciliation. Manchin and Sinema, both moderates, have said they think the bill is too big, and to get their support, it has to be cut back. Biden was set to travel to Chicago on Wednesday to discuss COVID-19 vaccines, but canceled his trip so he can stay in Washington and help with negotiations.
Sinema, who has not publicly shared exactly what she wants trimmed from the reconciliation bill, did not answer questions from reporters after her meeting with Biden. Manchin has said his problems with the bill involve the expansion of Medicare and a program that would pay utility companies to source their energy from renewables. His meeting with Biden lasted around an hour, he told reporters, adding, "We're still dealing in good faith."
This all comes as Congress faces two critical deadlines. Government funding runs out midnight on Thursday, and if a bill isn't passed there could be a partial shutdown on Friday. Additionally, if the debt ceiling is not raised by mid-October, the Treasury won't be able to pay all of its bills, which could trigger a financial catastrophe.