Bernie Sanders Hints at 'Progress' After Meeting Joe Manchin Over Biden Plan Impasse

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has hinted at progress following talks with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) about President Joe Biden's infrastructure and social spending bill.

Manchin and Sanders briefly spoke to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol Building on Monday and suggested they could be on the path to reaching an agreement over the proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.

The senators have clashed in public statements about the social spending bill in a feud that has reportedly caused concern for congressional Democrats as they work to pass Biden's domestic agenda.

In a video shared to Twitter by NBC News' reporter Frank Thorp V on Monday, Sanders appeared to suggest the talks could be successful.

Manchin placed his arm on Sanders' shoulder as photographers took photos and said: "Get a picture of us, huh? We're talking."

Sanders said: "We're talking" and then added: "We're talking. We're making progress."

The senators then walked toward their nearby vehicles and Manchin could be heard to say: "Never give up, Bernie" as he seated himself in a truck.

Video: Just two buds heading home after meeting in the Capitol:

— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 18, 2021

Manchin's vote is essential if Democrats hope to pass the Build Back Better Act in the evenly divided Senate. The bill is set to be passed using the budget reconciliation process, which will not require Republican support.

However, Manchin will need to vote for the bill along with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Both senators have said they are opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag, while Manchin appeared to score a victory over progressive Democrats at the end of last week regarding a climate change measure in the bill.

That measure would have provided $150 billion to encourage coal and gas-fired power plants in the U.S. to switch to renewable energy sources. Manchin objected to the plan. The White House is reportedly rewriting the bill to exclude the fossil fuel provision.

Sanders appeared to hit out at Manchin in an op-ed published in West Virginia's largest newspaper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, on Friday where he urged passage of the Build Back Better Act and pointed to the threat from climate change.

The Vermont senator mentioned by name Manchin toward the conclusion of the article and noted his opposition to the bill.

"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," Sanders wrote.

Manchin responded to Sanders' op-ed in a statement posted to Twitter, saying: "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."

It remains to be seen if Sanders and Manchin will reach a formal agreement on the Build Back Better Act, especially while progressives in the House of Representatives are opposed to cutting back the proposed spending and could potentially vote against a reduced package.

Bernie Sanders Leaves a News Conference
Sen. Bernie Sanders departs a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on October 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Sanders has hinted at "progress" in talks with Senator Joe Manchin about President Joe Biden's agenda. Win McNamee/Getty Images