Progressive Caucus Flex Causes Democrat Chaos
Progressive Caucus Flex Causes Democrat Chaos
The Progressive Caucus is patting themselves on the back right now. “Hurray for us! We tanked the infrastructure vote!”
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is probably hunting for dentures with fangs (it’s October, something must be available on Amazon), moderate House Democrats are nervously looking at their 2022 election prospects, Joe Biden is in Delaware, and the Republicans are breaking open their popcorn to enjoy the show.
To recap what was supposed to happen this week in Congress: the plan was for the House Democrats to pass the small bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday, and then use reconciliation to pass the “Build Back Better” Agenda budget bill with all their social justice wish list goodies and its pricetag of $3.5 trillion in the Senate, which would then be tossed to the House for a vote. Then Nancy Pelosi pushed that infrastructure vote to Thursday, because thanks to the Progressive Caucus, she didn’t have the votes for the infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill passed the Senate. When the vote didn’t happen on Thursday, Pelosi pushed it to Friday.
However, the Senate kept running into issues about what could be in the bill if reconciliation was used to pass it – specifically, immigration, which was shot down by the Senate parliamentarian not once, but TWICE – plus Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refused to vote for the bill if the pricetag was that high (despite the efforts by the Biden administration to portray the $3.5 trillion bill as costing “zero” dollars).
This led to a standoff in the Democrat party – the Progressive Caucus versus anyone exercising a modicum of fiscal sanity. And we’re still talking about TRILLIONS of dollars here as being the relatively “sane” position!
What this really breaks down to is a massive failure in the Democrat leadership between Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden. (Not that we should care, but it is what happened.)
Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. She is reponsible for bringing her caucus into line. Her problem is the Progressive Caucus, led by Squad den mother Pramila Jayapal. Jayapal is being credited for solidifying the Progressive Caucus into a unified voting bloc, instead of being just a Squad glee club. This makes things remarkably more problematic for Pelosi, who apparently was promising (with Joe Biden’s approval) that the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill would be linked. This gave Jayapal the standing to talk about how the Progressive Caucus wasn’t going to budge.
For more than three months now, we’ve been clear that we are NOT voting for one of these bills without the other.
Working people, families, and our communities are counting on us to deliver the entire Build Back Better agenda.
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) October 1, 2021
Chuck Schumer is Senate Majority Leader – of the thinnest majority possible for there to be in the Senate. In order for a reconciliation bill to pass, he HAS to have every single one of his 50 senators vote for the bill, and then have Kamala Harris be the tiebreaker, in order to get the majority vote needed. However, he has to deal with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, neither of whom are on board with spending $3.5 trillion (and would like to be reelected in their home states of West Virginia and Arizona, respectively). Manchin made it extremely clear that he could not vote to spend $3.5 trillion, and his “top line” on the reconciliation bill was $1.5 trillion.
And what’s more, he brought the receipts. Apparently he had come to an “understanding” with Schumer about how much he was willing to vote for back in JULY – and Schumer LITERALLY SIGNED IT.
A senate aide confirms authenticity of this document from July, reported by Politico – that Manchin proposed to Schumer a topline $1.5T reconciliation bill, with debate to begin no later than 10/1/2021. Says Manchin does not guarantee vote for reconciliation if it exceeds $1.5T pic.twitter.com/JMX7SXxXyS
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) September 30, 2021
Which means that while Pelosi was trying to placate the Progressive Caucus, Schumer already knew that Manchin wasn’t going to play ball on a reconciliation bill – but Schumer let Pelosi twist in the wind anyway, while Bernie Sanders and the Squad screamed bloody murder about how Manchin was ruining all their hopes and dreams. The Progressive Caucus then held firm, and Pelosi had to scrap the infrastructure vote on Friday. AOC makes it perfectly clear what the progressives want – all or nothing.
When legislators tell you that something is better than nothing pic.twitter.com/8CbIz56n44
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) September 30, 2021
At this point, they have nothing. So where is Joe Biden? Where is the uniter of the party? Where is the guy who struck the infrastructure deal with Republicans, only to turn around and insist that the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill are linked and should be voted on together? Well, he gave it a shot – and because he is a meat puppet for Chief of Staff Ron Klain (who apparently was egging on the Progressive Caucus while letting Biden talk to Pelosi), his appeal to the House Democrats went nowhere. And if it isn’t apparent that Biden is nothing more than a meat puppet for the progressive agenda, not even the DEMOCRATS were allowed to ask him questions behind closed doors!
As Biden left the meeting, he then basically tried to reset the counter on getting anything done. The continuing resolution got passed to avoid a government shutdown, so apparently this now allows Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi the flexibility to get these bills passed… sometime.
Biden: It doesn’t matter if it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks… we’re going to get it done pic.twitter.com/LgeHePln5I
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 1, 2021
Biden apparently told Jayapal that the progressives were going to have to deal with a smaller bill (which had to hurt), and then Biden left town and went to Delaware. Being president for a few hours at a time is really all he can handle.
The reality is that the Progressive Caucus is Joe Biden’s stumbling block, but the problem is that he actually agrees with them. The other part of the problem isn’t Manchin and Sinema refusing to just be good little Democrats and vote for the bill, it’s Schumer promising Manchin one thing without telling Pelosi about it, when they are supposed to be unified, and then Pelosi failing to get the progressives into line to vote for the infrastructure bill. Now that it is all but certain that the “Build Back Better” bill will have to be shrunk in order to get it passed via reconciliation, how will AOC, Jayapal, and the rest of the Progressive Caucus react to being denied all the goodies on their wish list?
Meanwhile, the Republicans must be enjoying the show while they sit on the sidelines, making the Democrats responsible for their own agenda. After all, the Democrats have the majority, and they think they have a mandate. They’re going to own whatever happens next, and then watch the fallout in the 2022 midterms. No wonder the moderates are freaking out.