Scott called our attention to this Politico Playbook piece about the infrastructure/reconciliation struggle. Politico’s Rachel Bade and Ryan Lizza report that Team Biden exerted no pressure on House leftists to pass the stimulus package that Nancy Pelosi had scheduled for a vote. Indeed, some sources say that Ron Klain, head coach of Biden’s team, encouraged the far leftists to “hold firm” against passing infrastructure legislation until a deal on reconciliation can be reached.
To me, the interesting question is whether, had Biden and his team pushed for the passage of the infrastructure bill, they would have been successful. My guess is that the bill wouldn’t have passed either way.
This may explain why Team Biden did not push. How embarrassing it would have been if Biden had tried to pressure holdout leftists into voting for the infrastructure bill, only to come up short.
By staying neutral or maybe siding with the leftists, the president maintains credibility with them. Of course, he may have lost some credibility with Nancy Pelosi who, in turn, has lost some with the so-called moderate faction to whose members she had promised a vote.
But Pelosi is a team player. She’s not likely to hold Biden’s stance against him. And the so-called moderates will likely be more forgiving and less strident than the radicals would have been if Biden had gotten on their wrong side.
I’m also intrigued by the news that back in July, Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin reached a written understanding as to what the West Virginia Senator wants in a reconciliation. Why did Schumer wait until the end of September to reveal that understanding?
I don’t know. My guess is Schumer feared that if he revealed that Manchin was on board for no more than $1.5 trillion in spending, the news would have killed any hope of passing infrastructure legislation. Schumer may have thought that Biden could persuade Manchin to accept a higher number by September.
I wonder, though, what Manchin thought as lefty Democrats and their media pals like Dana Milbank shrieked at him for not saying what his reconciliation number is. In fact, he had given Schumer the number months ago and apparently had no intention of raising it.
Going forward, the first question is whether Democrats can come up with a reconciliation package of around $1.5 trillion (or a little higher, if Manchin is flexible) that will satisfy the West Virginia Senator and his Arizona colleague, Sen. Sinema. Manchin’s demands are not limited to the dollar amount of reconciliation. I won’t hazard a guess on that.
Second, would such a package, if it can be formulated, be sufficient to induce far left House members to vote for reconciliation and for the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation, as well? My guess is that it would be.
Third, if a reconciliation deal can’t be reached, would the far left members eventually do that which they refused to do this week — pass the infrastructure legislation alone? That’s a closer call. I tend to think they would, but after last week there’s plenty of room for doubt.
Let the soap opera continue.