That headline may be a little bit dramatic, but is it overly hyperbolic? Not necessarily. As of last evening, here is where things stood in Congressional Democrats’ internal war over the (bipartisan) infrastructure and (partisan) ‘reconciliation’ sequencing and negotiations. Keep in mind that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote on the former piece of Senate-passed legislation tomorrow. Bad vibes:
->Manchin still refusing 2 commit after Biden meetings/no top-line #
->Bernie is issuing a battlecry 2 progressives 2 kill the BIF
->Schumer has turned on Pelosi, showing he doesn’t agree w/Thursday vote
->& POTUS is MIA/not whipping
Dems in … yep.
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) September 28, 2021
Yikes. A moderate Senator not budging, a Socialist pushing his House comrades to kill the infrastructure bill if they don’t get their way on other spending, disarray between the top two Democratic leaders on the Hill, and a weak president doing a lot of discussing, but little leading. The clock has now moved even closer to Thursday’s Pelosi-imposed deadline. My guess is her strategy was to break the logjam by putting an actual vote on the calendar and basically daring her various factions to tank a huge spending bill. Biden would work the phones and whip votes. Recalcitrant members would recognize the high stakes, find ways to save face, and vote the party line — hence my recent ‘pressure cooker’ analogy. But is that plan having its desired effect? Things aren’t looking much better today. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is reportedly telling POTUS that she doesn’t want to commit to anything concrete on the reconciliation side until the bipartisan infrastructure package she helped negotiate goes through the House:
Democrats wanted clarity Tuesday from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema after back-to-back meetings with President Joe Biden. They didn’t get it. During a private meeting with the president, Sinema made clear she’s still not on board with the party’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan and is hesitant to engage on some specifics until the bipartisan infrastructure package passes the House, according to a person who spoke with her. “This is the third time she said she has told the president, ‘I’m not there,’” the person said, quoting Sinema as telling the president: “‘I’ve been very clear with you from the start.’” Sinema has problems with both the price tag and some of the tax increases devised to pay for it. After returning from his White House meeting, Manchin said that he did not give Biden a top-line number and made “no commitments from my standpoint.”
Manchin is noncommittal, but Sinema seems to be making something close to a demand: Pass ‘BIF’ (bipartisan infrastructure), then I’ll play ball on reconciliation, but I’m not supportive of the current top line price tag or some pay-fors.’ The left-wingers want exactly the opposite. They don’t trust Manchin and Sinema to agree to enough Democrat-only spending and tax increases, so they want to hold ‘BIF’ hostage for leverage. And they insist they aren’t shying away from their own demand:
It’s not the infrastructure bill THEN maybe the Build Back Better package down the road. That wasn’t the deal.
Progressives won’t back down. We’re fighting the people’s fight and we’re going to deliver the entire Build Back Better agenda.
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) September 29, 2021
The New York Times reports today that liberals are “digging in:”
Liberal Democrats dug in on Tuesday against voting for a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this week, angrily rejecting a decision by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to push the bill forward before the party could resolve bitter disagreements over a sprawling social policy and climate package. The day after Ms. Pelosi signaled she would follow through with a Thursday vote on the infrastructure plan, the backlash reflected deep mistrust in the Democratic ranks that is threatening to derail President Biden’s domestic policy agenda…Without a compromise, progressives say they cannot support the smaller, Senate-passed infrastructure plan, which omits many of their top priorities. “Let me be clear: bringing the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote without the #BuildBackBetter Act at the same time is a betrayal,” Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, said on Twitter on Tuesday. “We will hold the line and vote it down.” … Ms. Pelosi initially said the House would not take up the infrastructure plan until after the broader bill had passed. But in recent days, she has effectively decoupled the two bills…
So how is Pelosi navigating this? Spitballing…and hinting at a delay in the ‘BIF’ vote:
This is relatively new: Pelosi says she wants legislative language for reconciliation before the infrastructure package gets a vote.
Pelosi also brought up my tweet from earlier this morning and confirmed that she does indeed have the authority to unilaterally delay the vote.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 29, 2021
Pelosi seems to be hoping that the existence of legislative language on the Dem-only spending binge will satisfy anxious progressives enough to induce them to pass BIF (update: rejected). Will Pelosi get that language agreed to by key Senators? And if she’s pre-asserting her power to delay a vote, what does that say? Meanwhile, click through for the reasons why lefties are angrier with Sinema than Manchin. The short version is that they expect Manchin to be moderate from a Trump-dominated state, where no other Democrat could win. And they know that he usually comes around for the party in the end. Sinema they view as someone who is holding up their dreams from the position of a purple state Democrat, which they see as inexcusable. It doesn’t really seem like she cares, though. Tomorrow could come and go without a vote. Or the vote could collapse and fail. Or Democrats could get failure anxiety and come together at the last minute to get it done. What’s unusual is that Nancy Pelosi, vote-counting master, doesn’t know what’s going to happen, with the clock ticking. If the whole process gets pushed back, to what end? Questions abound. I’ll leave you with more of this laughable nonsense:
Nancy Pelosi on the Democrats’ $3.5 TRILLION tax-and-spending spree:
“It’s not about a dollar amount…the dollar amount, as the president said, is zero.” pic.twitter.com/Oe6wIr8spC
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 29, 2021
Sources: TownHall: Judgment Day: Is the Biden Agenda About to Crash and Burn Tomorrow?