A Monday conference call between President Joe Biden and left-wing House Democrats in support of the Build Back Better Act did not include four of the most prominent representatives in the faction.
Squad members New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Michigan Rep. Raashida Tlaib were not asked to participated in the Zoom call, which included Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, Democratic caucus Senior Whip and CPC Deputy Whip Debbie Dingell, and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark.
Omar, the CPC Whip, and California Rep. Katie Porter, the CPC Deputy Chair, were the only members of CPC leadership to not receive an invitation to participate in the Zoom call.
— Anthony Adragna (@AnthonyAdragna) October 4, 2021
During the meeting, Biden reportedly attempted to sell the left-wing members on a reduced top line number for the social spending package, which Democrats will attempt to pass through the budget reconciliation process. Biden said that he believes Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the two Democrats most vocal with their concerns about the bill, would accept a total cost between $1.9-2.2 trillion, multiple outlets reported. Manchin has repeatedly said that he would not accept more than $1.5 trillion in new spending. (RELATED: ‘The Definition Of Fiscal Insanity’: Manchin Slams Reconciliation Price Tag, Demands Hyde Amendment Reinstatement)
One participant reportedly described the meeting to Politico as “blunt,” with Biden “getting more and more frustrated.”
Squad members have repeatedly clashed with Manchin and Sinema during negotiations. Omar accused the two moderates of being Republicans due to their criticisms of the package, and Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Manchin is “killing people” through “weekly huddles” with lobbyists. In response, Manchin accused left-wing Democrats of “fiscal insanity” of the type that has “weakened… great nations throughout history.”
Other left-wingers have joined in the war of words. Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, who also participated in the Monday meeting with Biden, has joked that Manchin “demand[ed] only green M&Ms” in addition to his total spending number, and asked that Sinema “show us something other than a designer purse” during negotiations.
Biden will continue to meet with other groups of Democrats to negotiate the Build Back Better package. He will participate in a conference call on Tuesday with House Democrats representing key swing districts.