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Tipsheet

Infrastructure and Reconciliation Bills Upended (Again) by Democrats in Disarray

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The halls of Congress are probably feeling a bit like "Groundhog Day" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as their own caucuses are again proving unable to reach agreements over key pieces of President Biden's legislative agenda: the infrastructure package and budget reconciliation bill. Despite Biden's visits to Capitol Hill, meetings with key members of Congress at the White House, and a national tour to tout his plan, Democrats can't get their act together. 

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Led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in the House, more than three dozen progressive lawmakers are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill they prevented Pelosi from bringing to the floor for a vote in an eleventh hour showdown at the end of September. Now, as in September, the leftist Democrats say that if they only see a "framework" on the budget reconciliation bill instead of a vote on the "Build Back Better" budget, they'll bail on the infrastructure vote and leave Pelosi without enough votes to pass it. Again.   

Pelosi, supposedly the master negotiator, said earlier this week that the framework would be enough to persuade progressives to get back into line, but that apparently was little more than wishful thinking. 

Over in the Senate, things aren't going any better among Democrats. Leader Schumer continues to fail in his attempts to get Bernie Sanders (I-VT) close to the same page that Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) are on. More realistic than optimistic, Sanders said on Wednesday that there wasn't a path to a deal, adding "every sensible income option seems to be destroyed."

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All this comes nearly a month after President Biden himself made a trip to Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats and supposedly act as a "closer" on a deal to get his legislative agenda passed through the two chambers of Congress, both of which are controlled by his party. In recent weeks the president has toured the country trying to build public support for his woke infrastructure and budget bills. All of it, apparently, for naught. Instead of getting closer to achieving Biden's legislative priorities, Democrats in Congress have grown more disparate and dysfunctional, returning to the same apparently insurmountable squabbles.

Asked about the very clear reality that Democrats are unable to effectively govern in a way that allows them to even agree among their own party, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tried to tamp down the escalating narrative of Democrats in disarray on Wednesday afternoon.

Sounding similar to how the Biden White House messaged the disastrous Afghan withdrawal — "nothing to see here" — Psaki snarkily responded to a question about missed deadlines and failures to meet promises of an impending deal by insisting the chaos in the Capitol is just how legislation gets passed.

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President Biden, with his legislative agenda again in jeopardy due to his own party's members in Congress, is headed to Europe on Thursday morning, but there's still a chance he will return to Capitol Hill to meet with members before heading across the pond. 

Pelosi is apparently pushing to bring the budget bill to the floor for a vote at some point on Thursday, though there's not much detail as to what form it's in. Perhaps a revival of her infamous "pass the bill to see what's in it" strategy from the Affordable Care Act is afoot. 

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