Progressive Democrats, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, expressed optimism on Tuesday the party could come to a deal on President Joe Biden's budget package of social programs even as she expressed disappointment over the expected cuts.
Biden was holding seperate meetings with liberal and moderate lawmakers at the White House to bring the warring wings of his Democratic party to consensus over the final price tag for his agenda, which includes funding for health and education programs along with money for fighting climate change.
Jayapal said the president has been consistent about his bottom line numbers of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion, which is roughly half of the original $3.5 trillion proposal and much less than the $6 trillion progessives had wanted.
'It's not the number that we want. We have consistently tried to make it as high as possible,' Jayapal, the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters outside the White House after their two hour meeting with the president.
Progressive Democrats, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (center), expressed optimism the party could come to a deal on President Joe Biden's budget package of social programs even as she expressed disappointment over the expected cuts
The group of liberal lawmakers - Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) - took a group picture outside the West Wing after their two-hour meeting with Biden
As she spoke, moderate Democrats were seen entering the West Wing with their own meeting with Biden.
'I think the president has been working incredibly hard to get everybody to a place where we can move this forward and finish this process so that we can start on whatever is the next important thing that we need to do so,' Jayapal said.
Earlier that day, Biden met with moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema at the White House as he took negotiations on his congressional agenda in his own hands.
Biden has stepped up his involvement as the clock ticks toward the October 31 deadline for Congress to pass his infrastructure plan and his budget package of social programs.
The deadline was set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Jayapal said the president did not give a timeline.
She added that 'we are at a point where we feel an urgency to move things forward, and the pickup of meetings is a reflection of that.'
The White House also said on Tuesday said it has not ruled out a carbon tax as a possible option for fighting climate change, even though Manchin said he was not discussing the topic in talks about U.S. spending and infrastructure bills.
'I'm not taking any options on or off the table,' Psaki said.
She noted the president believed it was possible to design a carbon tax that would not violate his pledge not to raise taxes on people making $400,000 or less a year.
Some Democrats, including Senator Ron Wyden, have focused on a carbon tax as a possible alternative as Manchin opposes a key measure in the spending bill called the Clean Energy Payment Program (CEPP).
Jayapal said that a carbon tax did not come up in a meeting she and other Democrats held with Biden.
President Joe Biden will take negotiations on his congressional agenda in his own hands, holding a series of meetings at the White House on Tuesday
President Biden met with Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe