President Biden’s long, hot summer has just begun.
Democrats are fighting among themselves trying to pass a humongous infrastructure plan, that includes both actual infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, along with so-called “human infrastructure,” which includes child day care and aspects of the Green New Deal at a pricey $4 trillion to $6 trillion in taxpayer expense.
Mr. Biden did his party no favors last week, when he accidentally let the cat out of the bag, saying he wouldn’t sign a bipartisan infrastructure deal, without a progressive dream list coming to his desk in tandem. Meaning — he’d take credit for a slimmed-down $1.2 trillion Republican-backed infrastructure package which could be heralded as “bipartisan” and then would sign another liberal version, including all the items the GOP worked to strip out of the original bill.
This isn’t a compromise – this is hoodwinking the GOP senators who came to the table to negotiate in good faith. Yes, the White House tried to walk back Mr. Biden’s veto threat on Saturday, but the statement was mealy-mouthed and Republicans, led by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, can’t afford to get rolled by Democrats, especially leading up to the 2022 elections. Trust was definitely lost and is unlikely to be regained.
This is a problem for the Democrats. If the White House and Democratic congressional members had the votes needed to pass a large infrastructure bill through reconciliation, they would’ve done it. Democrats are trying to govern as if they have a mandate, but they only won 50 seats in the Senate and have to deal with more centrist Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. It only takes one of them to torpedo a reconciliation bill, and Mr. Manchin has already stated he wants infrastructure to be bipartisan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated unequivocally she wouldn’t bring the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill for a vote until the Senate passes a separate “human infrastructure” bill that could be jammed through via reconciliation. She’s gambling that she can get the progressives in her party on board with the bipartisan deal, only if she can guarantee them everything they want in a separate bill.
It’s a bold gamble, as Mrs. Pelosi can lose no more than two Democratic votes to pass any bill without Republican support — and she’s already passed multiple radically progressive bills that have isolated many blue-dog Democrats within her caucus.
Already, Democrats are haggling among themselves on how to pay for the large price-tag of both bills, and what should be included. A group of eight Democrats said they would vote against tax increases to pay for infrastructure unless a cap on state and local tax (SALT) is repealed. Other centrist Democrats are worried about the price tag of each bill and about being targeted by Republicans in their home districts for adding to the federal deficit. Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York continues to appear on national television, saying she’s only concerned about the package being too small.
And the time is ticking. The Senate is on recess for two weeks, so it’s unlikely there will be any movement on a potential reconciliation bill. Neither infrastructure bill has been written. Neither has been passed through committees. Only a bipartisan proposal has been agreed on.
Meanwhile, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government.
Rather than accept a bipartisan agreement – which may be smaller than what Democrats want but will still improve this nation’s infrastructure for millions of Americans – Democrats are playing hardball. Again, without a clear mandate to govern.
If the bipartisan deal falls through and Democrats can’t get the votes they need for a reconciliation package, Democrats will own this failure. Republicans have done their part to work across the aisle.
Instead of governing from the left, Democrats should be looking more toward the center, which is more representative of America, given their slim majorities in each chamber of Congress.
Still, that doesn’t seem to be their plan.
So good luck, Democrats. You’re in for a long, hot summer. Your party seems to be in disarray.