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Sinema says she does not support $3.5 trillion reconciliation package Democrats plan to pass along party lines

While Sinema signaled she wants to pare back the package’s $3.5 trillion cost, she didn’t say by how much — a sign that she’s willing to negotiate. The senator also indicated she will likely vote to move forward with the budget resolution, which has to first pass Congress before lawmakers can consider the reconciliation plan.

“I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona’s economy and help Arizona’s everyday families get ahead,” Sinema, a moderate and key Democratic negotiator working on the infrastructure deal, said in a statement.

Democrats have been working on both deals on what they have described as “dual tracks,” with some members of the party vowing not to support the bipartisan plan without guarantees the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package will be passed as well.

While Sinema’s announcement adds a new obstacle to the path forward for both the bipartisan and reconciliation packages, it does not necessarily doom either plan because the senator said she will not stand in the way of the bill’s progress. She also appears open to negotiations around the package as the process moves forward.

Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, shook off Sinema’s opposition to the budget’s price tag later Wednesday, predicting there would be 50 votes to pass the budget resolution next week and that the reconciliation plan would also pass.

“Next week we’re going to have 50 votes to pass a budget resolution,” said Sanders, who represents Vermont. “And at the end of the day, I believe that we will have a reconciliation package that will provide enormous support for working families in this country.”

Several Democrats — particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — have said they will not support the bipartisan package unless they can be assured the reconciliation package is passed as well. Her comments are a reflection of her caucus, of which many members have prioritized the sweeping $3.5 trillion budget plan over the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democrats only have a four-seat majority in the House.

Both Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, another moderate Democrat, have expressed doubts about the size of the reconciliation package and the fact that it will be passed along partisan lines.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this month that Democrats’ $3.5 trillion plan would go beyond traditional infrastructure and include a historic expansion of Medicare, allowing coverage for the first time for hearing, dental and vision, a provision that has been a top priority for Sanders.

The $1 trillion infrastructure package, meanwhile, includes money for roads, bridges, railroads and airports, along with water, power and broadband infrastructure projects.

Sinema, who has spoken with President Joe Biden about the bipartisan package, said he is “committed” and “very excited” about the agreement.

“We’re very excited to have a deal,” she said, suggesting they “feel good” about getting enough votes to advance the legislation.

This story has been updated to include comment from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this story.

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