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Manchin has ‘nice talk’ with Sinema but won’t discuss details on fate of social spending and tax bill

Sen. Joe Manchin Tuesday afternoon spoke with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for about 15 minutes in the Senate chamber as the fate of the Democrats’ social spending and tax bill rests largely in her hands.

“We had a nice talk,” Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters after their discussion. “We had a nice talk.”

“She’ll make a decision based on the facts. We’re exchanging texts back and forth,” Manchin also said. “She’s extremely bright, she works hard. She makes a good decision based on facts, and I’m relying on that.”

The comments followed Manchin being caught on camera leaning in close to Sinema as she chaired Senate proceedings. When Sinema needed to speak, Manchin would step away briefly only to lean back in and continue their conversation once she was done.

SCHUMER-MANCHIN SOCIAL SPENDING AND TAX BILL FACES MAJOR HURDLES AS DEMS SEEK QUICK PASSAGE

A spokesperson for Sinema, D-Ariz., told Fox News Digital that the senator still does not have public comment on the social spending bill, which Manchin announced with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last week.

The legislation follows more than a year of Democratic negotiations on passing a bill using a process called budget reconciliation to get around the Senate filibuster. 

Manchin and Schumer’s new bill, titled the “Inflation Reduction Act,” would spend $433 billion and would raise $739 billion in tax revenue, according to Democrats. That pales in comparison to the initial $3 trillion “Build Back Better” proposals from last year. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., stands near Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., as she chairs Senate proceedings on Aug. 2, 2022.

MANCHIN DISPUTES DATA SHOWING SOCIAL SPENDING BILL WOULD RAISE TAXES ON MIDDLE CLASS DURING RECESSION

Manchin eventually shut down those earlier Build Back Better talks, citing rising inflation. But he kept up negotiations with Schumer behind closed doors until the pair announced their legislation last week. Sinema was not involved in the process and she’s still reviewing the text, her office told Fox News Digital. 

Sinema’s spokesperson also said that Sinema is waiting for the “parliamentarian process” to conclude before deciding if she supports the bill. That process, also called the Byrd Bath, is when the parliamentarian goes through the bill to ensure its elements comply with the Byrd Rule. That rule generally says only provisions that impact federal revenue and spending can be in reconciliation bills.

The Byrd Bath is expected to conclude later this week, although Manchin said he could not provide an update on it Tuesday.

“I really don’t have any control of the timing,” Manchin said.

SINEMA STILL UNDECIDED ON MANCHIN SOCIAL SPENDING BILL, WILL MAKE DETERMINATION AFTER PARLIAMENTARIAN REVIEW

Manchin was also asked about whether Sinema was upset she was not involved in negotiations on the package he released last week with Schumer. He said that Sinema “understands,” especially after previous rounds of negotiations that fell through. 

Manchin further dodged questions about whether he could be willing to drop parts of the bill, particularly the provision on the carried interest loophole, in order to secure Sinema’s vote.  

Schumer in a separate press conference Tuesday also said that he’s communicating with Sinema, as Democrats pray she’ll get to yes.

“Look, we’re in touch with … Senator Sinema. We’re in touch with all of the members and we’re hopeful,” Schumer said Tuesday. “I’m very hopeful. We’re all going to stay united and pass this bill.”

Fox News’ Kelly Phares contributed to this report.

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