Senators Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders argued behind closed doors in the Capitol, a new report revealed Thursday, with Manchin raising his fist to tell his liberal colleague he can live without any of President Joe Biden’s social spending plan.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told Axios the fight, which happened Wednesday in the Capitol building at a luncheon for Democratic committee chairmen, was ‘a difference in opinion.’
‘Joe said, ‘I’m comfortable with nothing,’ Bernie said, ‘We need to do three-and-a-half [trillion dollars].’ The truth is both of them are in different spots,’ Tester said.
He said Manchin tolf Sanders that ‘I’m comfortable with zero,’ forming a ‘zero’ with his thumb and index finger.
Tester said he interpreted that to mean Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, can live without any of Biden’s spending plan becoming law.
Senator Chris Coons also witnessed the altercation and said Manchin told Sanders that ‘We shouldn’t do it at all.’
Senators Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders argued behind closed doors in the Capitol with Manchin raising his fist to tell his liberal colleague – above the two men at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs
Manchin and Sanders are at opposite ends of the Democratic spectrum and have been holding private meetings to work out a topline number for Biden’s trillion-dollar spending package of social programs. Manchin wants around $1.5 trillion while Sanders is pushing for the $3.5 version to pass.
The altercations show tensions are reaching a boiling point as moderates and progessives approach the end of week deadline that Biden gave them to come to consensus.
The two men have both met and fought throughout the week. They mugged for the cameras on Monday after they had another fight on the spending package.
During Monday afternoon’s Democratic senators meeting, Manchin told his colleagues he could accept the plan’s provision for free pre-K but not for free community college.
‘Bull****,’ Sanders said, according to a readout of the meeting reported by Politico.
The Vermont senator said Manchin was telling his fellow Democrats to go ‘F themselves.’
Manchin snapped back that was not the case and said he’d reminded Biden that he hadn’t won the state of West Virginia in the presidential election, a indication he doesn’t see the need for the president’s support in his home state.
Shortly after that fight, the two men ran into each other outside the Capitol building on Monday night, resulting in them hugging it out for the cameras.
Manchin approached Sanders, putting his arm around him and encouraging him to pose for the surrounding reporters.
‘Get a picture of us,’ Manchin told reporters. ‘We’re talking.’
‘We’re talking. We’re going to make some progress,’ Sanders said.
The two men were leaving the Senate after the evening’s votes. They got into their respective vehicles, which were parked next to one another.
‘Never give up, Bernie,’ Manchin told the Vermont senator.
The two men have met so far this week as they try to come to a compromise on the Biden’s massive social agenda.
Senators Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders hugged it out for the cameras on Monday evening, posing in front of the Capitol amid a squabble about President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget of social programs
Monday’s friendly encounter came after a fiery exchange where Manchin lashed out at ‘out-of-stater’ Sanders after the Vermont senator wrote an op-ed in West Virginia’s largest newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Sanders took to Machin’s backyard to urge support for Biden’s plan, prompting Manchin to launch out in fury at the move.
Sanders’s op-ed – titled Let’s stand together to protect working families – highlighted the wealth disparities in the U.S. and claimed the Build Back Better plan would help shrink the gap.
‘The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden and almost all Democrats in Congress, is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes,’ Sanders wrote.
Manchin immediately issued a stinging rebuke, taking to social media to condemn Sanders and accuse the twice-failed presidential candidate of having no idea of what was best for West Virginians.
‘This isn’t the first time an out-of-stater has tried to tell West Virginians what is best for them despite having no relationship to our state,’ Manchin wrote.
‘Millions of jobs are open, supply chains are strained and unavoidable inflation taxes are draining workers’ hard-earned wages as the price of gasoline and groceries continues to climb,’ he added.
He reprimanded Sanders for wanting to ‘throw more money on an already overheated economy while 52 other Senators have grave concerns about this approach.’
‘Congress should proceed with caution on any additional spending and I will not vote for a reckless expansion of government programs.
‘No op-ed from a self-declared Independent socialist is going to change that.’
Manchin wants to slice the scope of Biden’s package to nearly in half – coming in around $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion. He’s also pushing for some climate change provisions to be removed and questioning some tax cuts in the package.
Biden spoke with Manchin on Monday as talks continue on the president’s congressional agenda. In the evenly split 50-50 SEnate, Biden needs every Democratic vote.
He’s also spoken with Sanders, the head of the Senate Budget Committee, but the White House made clear he is not playing the role of presidential mediator.
‘I would say the President has been in touch with both senators — not to mediate words, but to better understand the path forward and what is — what are priorities to each of them. And he will continue to play that role,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
Manchin, meanwhile, has expressed doubt a deal can be reached at the end of the month.
‘There’s an awful lot that’s going on. I don’t know how that would happen,’ Manchin said Monday. ‘But once you get a meeting of the minds, if you ever come to an agreement, a meeting of the minds, you might be able to work something out.’
Bernie Sanders angered Joe Manchin when he wrote an op-ed in West Virigina’s largest newspaper, urging support for Biden’s agenda
President Joe Biden will take negotiations on his congressional agenda in his own hands, holding meetings at the White House with progressives and moderates
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s op-ed, Let’s stand together to protect working families, published in the Charleston-Gazette Mail
In America today, the very rich are becoming richer while millions of working families are struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills. We now have the absurd situation in which two multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans; the top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 92%; and the gap between rich and poor is wider than at any time in the last 100 years.
The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill, supported by President Biden and almost all Democrats in Congress, is an unprecedented effort to finally address the long-neglected crises facing working families and demand that the wealthiest people and largest corporations in the country start paying their fair share of taxes. In fact, this legislation would be paid for by ending loopholes and raising taxes on the 1% and large profitable corporations.
This bill would take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower the cost of prescription drugs in America by having Medicare negotiate prices with drug companies, something the VA already does. It is unacceptable that we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs — sometimes 10 times more than the people in other countries.
Last year alone, while nearly one out of four Americans could not afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors wrote, six of the largest pharmaceutical companies made nearly $50 billion in profits and the 10 highest-paid executives in the industry made over $500 million in compensation. In order to preserve this corrupt and greedy pricing system, the drug companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fight our legislation and have hired nearly 1,500 lobbyists, including former leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, to represent their interests. Enough is enough. We must lower prescription drug prices.
This bill would expand Medicare to cover dental care, hearing aids and eye glasses. Today, in the wealthiest nation on earth, many millions of seniors are unable to afford to go to a dentist, or buy the hearing aids and eye glasses they need. In the richest country on earth older Americans should not have teeth rotting in their mouths. That is unacceptable.
The United States, and states like West Virginia and Vermont in particular, are seeing their populations age. The result: more and more older Americans and people with disabilities need home health care. They would much prefer to be around their loved ones at home rather than be forced into expensive nursing homes. This bill greatly expands home health care and makes sure that these jobs are adequately paid.
The Build Back Better plan is not only vitally important for seniors, but it is enormously important for working families and their children. As a result of the $300 direct payments to working class parents which began in the American Rescue Plan, we have cut childhood poverty in our country by half. It would be unconscionable to see those payments end, which is exactly what will happen if we do not pass this bill.
This legislation also ends the dysfunction of our childcare system which forces millions of working families to spend 20% to 30% of their limited incomes on childcare and keeps over a million women out of the workforce. Under Build Back Better no family would pay more than 7% of their income for child care, and pre-K education for 3- and 4-year-olds would be universal and free. This is a huge step forward for working parents and their kids.
This legislation would make community college tuition free and enable our young people to acquire the skills they need to get good paying jobs and meaningful careers.
This legislation will end the embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave.
This legislation will make a massive investment in low-income and affordable housing so that we no longer have 600,000 homeless Americans and millions more who spend half their incomes or more on housing.
And then there is the existential threat of climate change. With the planet becoming warmer and warmer, with unprecedented forest fires, drought, floods and extreme weather disturbances, and when scientists tell us that we only have a few years to avoid irreparable damage to our country and planet, this legislation begins the process of cutting carbon emissions and transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
And when we do all of these things, and more, we create millions of good paying jobs and offer a brighter future for our young people.
This reconciliation bill is being opposed by every Republican in Congress as well as the drug companies, the insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire class. They want to maintain the status quo in which the very rich get richer while ordinary Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet.
I believe that now is the time, finally, for Congress to stand up for working families and have the courage to take on the big money interests and wealthy campaign contributors who have so much power over the economic and political life of our country.
Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation. Yet, the political problem we face is that in a 50-50 Senate we need every Democratic senator to vote ‘yes.’ We now have only 48. Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
This is a pivotal moment in modern American history. We now have a historic opportunity to support the working families of West Virginia, Vermont and the entire country and create policy which works for all, not just the few.