Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) lambasted Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today, saying "it's insane" that "one senator" is blocking attempts to settle on a palatable figure for President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios' Alayna Treene, Jonathan Swan and Sarah Mucha report.
Why it matters: The figure is the linchpin to getting progressive support for the companion $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. Khanna's statement reflects broader dissatisfaction among House progressives with Sinema and her fellow holdout, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
What we're hearing: Khanna and fellow progressive Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) suggested to Axios that Sinema is the bigger threat to a final deal — decrying what they argue is a lack of transparency and candidness.
- Khanna vented semi-publicly to participants on Yale's semiannual conference call with its CEO Caucus. He branded Sinema's evasiveness as "insane" and an inordinate amount of power for "one senator," two participants told Jonathan.
- Khanna reiterated his opinion later during an interview with Axios, saying progressives "absolutely" need to worry about Sinema more than Manchin.
- "Manchin has always been reasonable," he said. "At the end of the day, he'll do what's needed for the party, he always has."
The other side: “Sen. Sinema is negotiating in good faith directly with President Biden and Sen. Schumer, not through the press,” Sinema’s spokesperson, John LaBombard, told Axios.
- Manchin’s office declined to comment.
Driving the news: The president twice with Sinema and once with Manchin today at the White House, as Democratic lawmakers seek to settle on a final, lower number for what began as a $3.5 trillion spending bill. Sinema returned to the White House a third time tonight.
- Biden also canceled a planned trip to Chicago tomorrow so he can continue to lobby in Washington.
- The meetings came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is trying to cobble together a deal this week between key progressives and moderates.
- Neither camp wants to commit unless Senate Democrats, who already passed the $1.2 trillion bill, also pass the larger Democratic spending bill.
- The question is whether progressives will yield if Senate Democrats give a firm outline of any deal they'll accept for the bigger bill — which they hope to pass on a purely party-line vote sometime this fall.
What's next: All eyes are on Thursday's planned vote in the House in the $1.2 trillion package that already passed the Senate with bipartisan support.
- While a series of progressives continue to insist they need a vote on the bigger reconciliation bill first, others, like Khanna, think a specific verbal commitment will suffice.
🚨 Breaking: "McAuliffe says he thinks the $3.5 trillion price tag for the spending bill is 'too high,'" @juliamanch tweets tonight.