With a ship-destroying iceberg’s worth of new spending on the line in the infrastructure deal, the House Progressive Caucus is threatening to sink the USS Biden all by themselves.
Presidentish Joe Biden (or is that President Ron Klain?) has staked his legacy on a Great Society-size expansion of the federal government, all wrapped up in a $3.5 trillion bill ostensibly aimed at improving the nation’s infrastructure. In actuality, it’s a budget-busting Progressive radical wishlist of giveaways, regulations, and new bureaucracies.
There’s a smaller, bipartisan bill that costs “only” $1.2 trillion and which is slightly more focused on actual infrastructure.
It’s a complicated act, using reconciliation to push through a massive expansion of the federal bureaucracy in a 50-50 Senate, which is why the Biden/Pelosi/Schumer Dem leadership triumvirate has been working on a dual-track.
But since there is zero GOP support for the bigger bill, there’s no choice for ambitious Dems but to use reconciliation, a procedure for getting spending bills through the Senate on a simple majority vote. In this case, they need all 50 Democrat senators plus a tie-breaking vote from alleged Vice President Kamala Harris.
However, there are two moderate Democrat senators — Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin — with serious reservations about the reconciliation bill.
They’re both opposed to some of the increased taxes and the amount of spending in the bigger bill, and that has the House Progressive Caucus fuming that they might not get their $3.5 trillion for Christmas.
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That’s why progressive Congresscritter Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday afternoon that her caucus is more than willing to torpedo the smaller bipartisan bill if they don’t get their way on the bigger bill.
“More than half” of the Congressional Progressive Caucus members, Jayapal told Tapper, “will not move the bipartisan bill without the reconciliation bill being passed.”
You can watch the full interview here:
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and reconciliation package: "More than half" of the Congressional Progressive Caucus members "will not move the bipartisan bill without the reconciliation bill being passed." pic.twitter.com/7r8mT3kWdv
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) September 21, 2021
Apparently feeling pretty feisty, Jayapal — who heads up the House Progressive Caucus — told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday night to “Try us” on whether they’re bluffing.
If both bills blow up, so does Biden’s ambition to make himself the most “consequential” Democrat (he thinks that’s a good thing) since LBJ.
In that case, please cue the world’s smallest violin.
But don’t get too excited just yet.
Jayapal might not be bluffing, but that doesn’t mean she and her caucus wouldn’t be open to a deal — a reconciliation bill just small enough to bring Manchin and Sinema on board, but still big enough to lock in a permanent and radical expansion of federal powers.