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Jayapal and Manchin meet for first time as negotiations over spending bill ramp up

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, met with Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday for the first time since broader negotiations over the Democrats' multitrillion-dollar spending bill began, sources familiar with the meeting said.

Jayapal, D-Wash., and Manchin, D-W.Va., who have been on opposite sides of the debate for several months, had a two-hour discussion about President Joe Biden's social spending package. Democrats plan to pass the package through a procedural measure known as reconciliation without Republican support.

The Democrats' effort to pass the legislation has highlighted intraparty conflicts over the price tag and its proposals. Jayapal and Manchin laid out their priorities for the bill and did not get into a back-and-forth over how to resolve their differences, a source said.

Their offices declined to comment.

They notably met after it was reported that a sweeping climate measure, known as the Clean Energy Performance Program, is likely to be removed from the spending plan because of Manchin's opposition.

No final decision has been made. The administration and progressive lawmakers have pushed for the $150 billion program to be in the social spending bill.

Manchin has also voiced concerns about the Democrats' infrastructure package, which progressives would like to pass in tandem with the social spending plan. Late last month, for example, Jayapal marshaled about half of her 95-member caucus to oppose the infrastructure bill if it came to a vote, fearing that moderate Democrats would try to curtail the social spending bill once the infrastructure proposal passed.

The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 31 to pass both bills, which have the support of Democrats and remain likely to pass in some form.

But the size of the social safety net bill is a sticking point among Democrats. Moderates are pushing for a pared-down version, while progressives insist that the bill's price tag will boost an economy upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchin, who has said he is proceeding with caution on any additional spending, told reporters Monday that he was skeptical that Congress could meet the Oct. 31 deadline.

"There's an awful lot that's going on. I don't know how that would happen," he said.

However, White House officials are urging lawmakers to get a deal to get done quickly.

Biden spoke with Manchin by phone Monday afternoon, said two people familiar with the conversation. It was among a number of meetings and calls Biden had Monday to try to break the stalemate in Congress over his infrastructure and social spending bills, one of the sources said.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democrat from Arizona who is also at the center of the disagreement, plans to visit Biden at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the reconciliation infrastructure package, a spokesperson for Sinema said.

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