House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has run out of time to unify her party if she wants to beat upcoming Sept. 30 expiration dates for spending programs and ram through the president’s $3.5 trillion so-called budget reconciliation bill, which is really just a partisan agenda wishlist.
“September 30th is a date fraught with meaning,” Pelosi told her colleagues on Saturday, according to The Daily Wire. “This week, we must pass a Continuing Resolution, Build Back Better Act and the BIF,” she said, referring to the Washington, D.C. acronym for the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.
In Congress, Sept. 30 is the end of the fiscal year, and parts of the government will shut down if a continuing resolution isn’t passed to keep things up and running until December when a longer-term budget is expected to be passed.
“The next few days will be a time of intensity,” Pelosi remarked, as The Daily Wire reported. “We sent a CR to the Senate and are awaiting their action to avoid a shutdown. We must pass the BIF to avoid the expiration of the surface transportation funding on September 30. And we must stay on schedule to pass the reconciliation bill so that we can Build Back Better.”
Can they do it?
There are several problems with Pelosi’s plans, however.
First, Democrats tacked a debt ceiling suspension onto the CR bill, which most Republicans have said is a no-go. House Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told Pelosi to pass the debt ceiling suspension with budget reconciliation as an accountability measure for what Republicans consider irresponsible levels of spending.
Next, she has progressives in her own party threatening to vote against a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate unless the $3.5 trillion so-called Build Back Better bill gets a vote first, and the bigger one is not ready.
To top it all off, at least two Democrats in the Senate — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — have said they aren’t voting for any $3.5 trillion bill, and the party needs every vote in the Senate for the bill to pass.
Another $5 trillion?
Given the current inflation being experienced in the economy, which is the worst since the 1970s, many economists fear that another $5 trillion in spending could cause a downturn or derail the post-COVID recovery.
Democrats have always wanted to spend this kind of money on social programs, but they have been restrained by Republican majorities in at least one chamber of Congress and by a sense that Americans didn’t support higher taxes to pay for the spending.
Now, they seem to have abandoned all restraint at a time when turmoil within and outside the country may be reaching a tipping point.
Assuming Republicans can take back at least one chamber of Congress in the 2022 midterms, which looks likely, the only question is how much damage Democrats can do in the next 15 months and whether it can be reversed afterward.