Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House for the second day straight to discuss the $3.5 trillion spending plan and the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, The New York Times reports.
Biden cancelled a trip to Chicago to promote COVID-19 vaccinations so he could continue to push for the legislation ahead of significant deadlines in the House this week.
Sinema, a moderate who is seen as a critical vote for Democrats, traveled to the White House for meetings three separate times on Tuesday. Her fellow centrist Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, also met with Biden at the White House on Tuesday.
“The president felt it was constructive, felt they moved the ball forward, felt there was an agreement, that we’re at a pivotal moment,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Times. “It’s important to continue to finalize the path forward to get the job done for the American people.”
“It’s really hard for the White House to issue anything when you have members of the caucus who won’t say what it wants,” an unidentified person familiar with the White House’s thinking told Politico. “You can’t start coming up with a bill when you don’t know what the number is.”
She also addressed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her decision to move ahead with a vote on the infrastructure bill in the House, which could affect the reconciliation package.
“We are working in lockstep to get both of those pieces of legislation done,” Psaki said. “One is absolutely not being dropped. Anyone who thinks that, that’s not true or accurate.”
A White House adviser noted to Politico that Biden is also meeting with congressional progressives as part of his efforts to get the legislation passed, but the news website adds that the president’s primary focus is on winning over moderates.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told Politico that he would be trying to win over the party’s centrists as well, if he were in Biden’s position.
“If I were over there, that’s what I’d be doing,” Cleaver said. “The House even though it’s seemingly unruly all the time, we generally will come together over here. But the Senate is frightening.”
He added, “If we fail, Joe Biden and his administration is in jeopardy because he campaigned on this and people voted for him.”