Sens. Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin posed for photos at the Capitol as negotiations continue on $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill

·2 min read
Bernie Sanders Joe Manchin
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (W-Va.) Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Photos surfaced of Sens. Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin smiling side by side on Monday.

  • With the Democrats' social spending bill currently at a standstill, they said: "We're talking."

  • Neither responded to questions on when a final pricetag would be agreed upon.

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin posed for photos outside of the Capitol on Monday as negotiations continue on the Democrats' $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

"Why don't you get a picture of us, huh?" Manchin, a moderate holdout from West Virginia, told reporters.

Both lawmakers avoided reporters' questions about the bill.

"We're talking," Manchin said.

"We're talking," Bernie repeated, adding, "We'll make some calls."

Both declined to comment on whether there would be a final resolution on the social spending bill by the end of the week, with Sanders and Manchin entering their respective vehicles.

"Never give up, Bernie," Manchin said as he closed his car door.

For months, progressives in the Democratic Party have lobbied for a heftier social spending bill and faced stiff resistance from Sens. Manchin and fellow moderate Sen. Krysten Sinema.

In June, Manchin said he wouldn't agree to a top-line higher than $2 trillion, but Democrats in the House and Senate as well as the White House settled on a $3.5 trillion pricetag. Sanders has sparred with Manchin and Sinema over the bill in the past, claiming they have been unwilling to budge in negotiations.

In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to bring forward a bipartisan bill, separate from budget reconciliation spending, for a vote. Sanders previously urged House Democrats to vote against the stand-alone bill, and the vote was withdrawn.

On Friday, President Joe Biden conceded and said he believed a full $3.5 trillion social spending bill was unlikely and that cuts would be required while negotiating with Manchin and Sinema.

"I'm convinced we're going to get it done. We're not going to get $3.5 trillion," he said at a speech at a childcare center in Hartford, Connecticut. "We'll get less than that, but we're going to get it, and we're going to come back and get the rest."

He added: "I don't know if I can get it done, but I've also proposed two years of free community college."

The bill currently includes childcare subsidies, new Medicare benefits, Medicaid expansion a revamped child tax credit, affordable housing - provisions Manchin and Sinema have deemed negotiable.

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