House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), heralded by President Biden as a master in passing radical agenda items, pretended Wednesday the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package is “in pretty good shape.”
In a letter obtained by Punchbowl News to the Democrat House caucus, Pelosi claimed the party is moving closer to a deal between the far-left and “moderate” Democrats:
Today, we move closer to passing the historic, transformative Build Back Better Act. As we have insisted, we are close to agreement on the priorities and the topline of the legislation, which can and must pass the House and Senate.
At the same time, we are facing a crucial deadline for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework to pass. To do so, we must have trust and confidence in an agreement for the Build Back Better Act.
On Tuesday Pelosi sang the same positive tune. “We are on the verge of something major. Transformative, historic, and bigger than anything else,” Pelosi reportedly told fellow anxious Democrats “during a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol,” the Hill reported.
“There’s not that much more time. We have to have decisions largely today, a little bit into tomorrow, so we can proceed,” Pelosi promised Tuesday. “Embrace it for what it is,” she added. “No bill is everything. We cannot miss this opportunity.”
Pelosi has not always shown optimism. In September the National Republican Congressional Committee put out a press release indicating Pelosi urged her Democrat members to “embrace the suck.” Democrats have been infighting over Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal since the spring, and there seems to be no determinative outcome almost six months later.
The leading perpetrators of the infighting are the opposing factions of the Democrat Party. The far-left hopes to pass the largest welfare package since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s, while the more moderate wing of the party, often in league with establishment Republicans, would settle for trillions of dollars spent and less welfare programs enacted for a shorter amount of time.
AOC says she's a NO if infrastructure bill comes to a vote tomorrow. "I don't see how ethically I can vote to increase U.S. climate emissions."
And says a "framework" is not enough on larger bill; needs detailed bill text.
"We have had framework for six months. We need text." pic.twitter.com/adFsbGl7h4
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 27, 2021
The dilemma seems to have Pelosi trapped between her eternal optimism that transformative legislation will be enacted into law and the reality of the 2022 midterms are next year.
If Biden’s agenda is not completed by the end of the year, it is increasingly unlikely it will ever be signed into law. Midterm election cycles typically change political calculations for politicians.
Ilhan Omar if a framework on reconciliation is enough for a yes on infrastructure- “We've been saying that we need both bills passed out of the House. Our position on that hasn't changed. And I don't know what it will take for that position to change.”
— Max Cohen (@maxpcohen) October 27, 2021
Yet Democrats may not be able to wait until the end of the year to resolve the infighting. Gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday are already worrying Democrats, who fear a Republican upset in one of the two races.
“If a Biden-like message offered by McAuliffe doesn’t succeed in purple Virginia, a lot of Democrats around the country will wonder if it makes more sense to chart a more independent course,” Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at University of Mary Washington, said.
The Democrats’ political calculus, in fact, has already changed. Politico reported that “Privately, Democrats say Pelosi is still racing to get some kind of framework agreement with Manchin and Sinema before the end of October.”
WH's Psaki on social spending bill: If we had a deal, we would be telling all of you about it
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 27, 2021
“Even an outline, those Democrats hope, could unlock enough progressive votes to pass the infrastructure bill in the final days before the Virginia election,” Politico estimated.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø