Washington — President Biden met with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin in Delaware on Sunday as Democrats look to broker an agreement on the president’s, a person familiar with the gathering confirmed to CBS News.
A White House official said Mr. Biden hosted the two at his home for breakfast. Asked Monday about the discussion with Manchin, the president told reporters that there are “some things to work out but it went well,” and said he hopes to have a deal on the sweeping package before he leaves for Europe on Thursday for summits in Rome and Glasgow, Scotland.
“This would be very, very positive to get it done before the trip,” Mr. Biden said before departing Delaware for New Jersey, where he is pitching his domestic policy agenda and campaigning with Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, who’s up for reelection in November.
Manchin told reporters at the Capitol Monday that he believes a framework on the social spending package will come together this week. Democrats are working to reach consensus on the framework containing Mr. Biden’s domestic policy agenda, which will require support from Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both moderate senators who objected to the package’s initial $3.5 trillion price tag.
But there is daylight between Manchin and Democratic leaders over the topline number, as the West Virginia senator has said he supports a $1.5 trillion plan — a figure he reiterated Monday — while Mr. Biden set a price range for the legislation at roughly $2 trillion. In addition to trimming the social spending package, Democrats are also hashing out the details of how to pay for it, as the White House faced resistance from Sinema over its plan to raise the corporate tax rate and top income rate rate for the wealthiest Americans.
Schumer told reporters Monday there are still “three or four” unresolved issues.
Mr. Biden’s sweeping domestic policy package was initially set to include his plans for paid family leave, free community college, universal pre-K and to expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing. But at ahosted by CNN on Thursday, the president said Manchin is opposed to Medicare expansion and free community college. Mr. Biden also said his plan for 12 weeks of paid family leave had been cut down to four weeks.
The president, however, expressed optimism that Democrats in both chambers could reach an agreement on a framework for the package, one that would garner support from Manchin and Sinema.
“What we’re trying to do is reach a point here where I’m able to present to the Senate — they’re able to vote on — and the House a serious, serious piece of legislation that changes the dynamic for working-class folks in America and middle-class folks, and begins to have the very wealthy and corporations just begin to pay their fair share,” he said Thursday.
Democratic leaders are aiming to reach an agreement on the social spending plan before Mr. Biden’s trip to Europe, during which he will attend the Group of 20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome and United Nations climate summit in Glasgow. A deal on the details of the package would pave the way for the House to vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which has already cleared the Senate, before the president leaves Washington, delivering him a key legislative win before he meets with world leaders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that Democrats have most of the social safety net bill “agreed to and written.”
The “plan,” she said, is for the House to vote on the physical infrastructure bill in the next week and Democrats to agree to a framework on the broader package.
Jack Turman and Alan He contributed to this report.