Another day, another Biden failure.
On Friday night, President Joe Biden had to slink out of Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner reported, after he failed to get enough Democrats to agree on an infrastructure vote, and it became clear that neither the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed bill or the larger $3.5 trillion House bill could be passed in both chambers.
Progressives are using the vote on the $1.2 trillion Senate-passed bill as leverage to make sure the $3.5 trillion bill they really want isn’t abandoned. Dozens of House progressives, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), have said they will not vote for the smaller bill until there is a vote on the larger one.
Meanwhile, centrist Democrats in the Senate, Joe Manchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) said they will not vote for anything close to a $3.5 trillion proposal. Manchin suggested a top line of $1.5 trillion for the larger bill, which is less than half its current size.
“It doesn’t matter”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s six minutes, a day, or six weeks — we’re going to get it done,” Biden told reporters as he left the Capitol, according to the Examiner — but arch-progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are balking at reducing the size of the massive plan.
All 50 Democrat Senators need to back the eventual bill if the Republicans remain united in their opposition, as they seem to be now.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) promised moderates in the House that she would hold a vote on the smaller infrastructure bill last week, only to delay the vote when it became apparent the larger bill was not ready.
Biden signaled agreement with that strategy, and advised progressives to negotiate a lower price tag that would be more acceptable to the moderates.
Next: debt ceiling fight
This week, Democrats are pushing for a vote to suspend the debt ceiling, but they have tied that bill to other legislation that Republicans don’t support.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to pass the debt ceiling bill without Republican votes because they couldn’t give support to an avenue that would allow unfettered spending by Democrats.
If the debt ceiling isn’t suspended, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the U.S. will run out of money to pay its bills by Oct. 18.
Biden, for his part, has called McConnell’s refusal to pass the existing bill “dangerous.”