President Biden is hosting various congressional Democratic factions on Tuesday as the party struggles to find common ground on the second part of Biden's Build Back Better agenda, a sweeping bill to tackle climate change and a host of family and social services. The progressives and a handful of centrists have made their preferences clear, but with negotiations taking place mostly in private, Washington and the political press have been consumed by the 'Dems in Disarray' drama.
"It was almost inevitable that the fight over President Joe Biden's agenda would come down to Bernie Sanders vs. Joe Manchin," Politico writes. "And in an evenly divided Senate," The New York Times adds, "Manchin — one of his party's only holdouts on the bill — might as well be king." As Democratic "negotiators sift through the details of what's in and out of the proposal, it's Manchin's priorities that are driving much of the debate, infuriating colleagues and complicating a deal," The Associated Press reports.
But Manchin (D-W.Va.) spoke on the phone with Biden on Monday and met separately with Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressional Progressive Caucus chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Manchin and Sanders, who got in a public spat on Friday, mugged for the cameras after leaving the Capitol on Monday night. "Get a picture. You want to get a picture of us?" Manchin asked, calling Sanders over.
"We're talking," Manchin said, wrapping an arm around Sanders, who agreed. "I would hope that we're going to see some real action within the next week or so," Sanders added. "We discussed the way forward."
"Never give up, Bernie," Manchin called to Sanders as they went to their respective cars.
It isn't clear how much Manchin — or his fellow holdout, Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are actually willing to give in the give-and-take. Jayapal declined to speak for Manchin when MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked her Monday night if Manchin believes he'll get everything he wants, but she said she thinks he does want to pass a bill.
"It was great to spend time with Sen. Manchin today — I'm not going to get into the details of what we talked about, but I just think it is important for us to be talking to each other," Jayapal told Maddow. And in the end, "I do think that we will deliver something very transformative for the country, I really do."