What we’re talking about on Capitol Hill are infrastructure and President Biden’s Build Back Better program. What is currently under construction, however, are ramparts for the federal election battles of 2022 and 2024 which I am sure will be a “prisoner-free” business.
Brewing battles will not only be cross-cutting affairs. The Democratic left appears to be preparing to fight both Republicans and moderate Democrats for control of the nation’s political agenda.
For a group that has shown remarkable restraint and support for House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and President Biden, it seems odd that progressives are getting into a fight, not to mention a fight with members of their own caucus. . So why now?
It is widely accepted that President Biden has an increasingly narrow window of opportunity to make his mark on the presidency. He promised a generational change. he and the Democrats have very little to show for their efforts.
The memory of lawmakers and voters is notoriously short and narrow. It should come as no surprise then that the eternal question put to all lawmakers is set in stone above their entrance to the Capitol –WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATEST?
Well, I got carried away for a moment. Ignore the bit about stone carving but trust me; the question is etched in the minds of every elected legislator.
If Democrats fail to get one or both infrastructure and reconciliation bills signed in Congress and President Biden’s office for signature within the next 90 days, they will have a hard time convincing voters next November that their lives were improved by this president and his party. They have their work cut out for them.
Much has been written about Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Sinema (D-AZ) being the only recalcitants of the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill which includes most of the president’s Build Back Better program. Biden. Together, the provisions of the reconciliation bill, for example the extension of tax credits for renewable energies, and the infrastructure bill, for example the construction of a charging network for electric vehicles, keep Biden’s campaign promises.
To avoid filibustering, it behooves Democrats to cram as much as possible into the reconciliation package. Even then, the Senate parliamentarian may have qualms about what’s in the package. What is not included is unlikely to be adopted, unless, of course, they do well in 2022.
The real story – at least the one the Liberals think is the most accurate – is that the Democrats’ future is not centrist but of the left. As explained by representative Pramilia Jayapal, president of the Congressional Progressive Caucus CPC), this [the reconciliation bill] is not a moderate versus progressive conversation; that’s 96 percent versus 4 percent conversation.
Where does she find her numbers? The CPC has 100 members, while the conservative Blue Dog coalition at best has 19. Representative Jayapal also refers to the number of voters the progressives represent compared to the numbers Manchin and Sinema represent. The total population of West Virginia is just over 20% of New York City.
Jayapal’s math may be a little sketchy, but the sentiment is fair. There are legitimate questions to ask of the two recalcitrant Senate.
- Is it fair for them to ignore that voter polls show consistent support for the climate provisions of Biden’s Build Back Better plan? (Figure 1)
- Is it fair for them to keep the nation on a constant diet of fossil fuels when the horrendous health and environmental consequences of their use are known with scientific certainty?
West Virginia and Arizona will both be hit hard by climate change. The Southwest is already facing drought. It is expected to get worse. The rivers and valleys of West Virginia may be beautiful, but they’re also deadly when hit by torrential rains.
I don’t think there is a real question about the precarious position of moderate Democrats like Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) or Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA). Bourdeaux was the only Democrat to change a House seat from red to blue in the 2020 election.
There are good arguments to support Jayapal’s intransigence. History is not on the side of a sitting president’s party in the midterm elections. Biden knows this from experience, as Democrats lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats in the midterm election after Obama won.
It could be that whatever Democrats do, they will always lose control of the House or Senate. In this case, it is extremely important to do all they can in the coming weeks using the reconciliation process.
The 2010 elections were not very favorable to the Republican establishment. The rise of the Tea Party marked the start of a period in which two Republican House Speakers, Boehner and Ryan, chose retirement over re-election. Why? Due to traffic jams caused by far-right conservatives whose agenda is not governance but stubbornness.
Trump left the building, not the Party. Today, Republicans in office or those who aspire to one are measured by the standards of the former president. Those who vote to impeach him or do not want to back his piece for a recount in 2020 are declared persona non grata or awarded by candidates backed by Trump.
It’s been almost a year since the election, and Steve Scalise (R-LA), the Republican No. 2 in the House, can’t bring himself to admit that Trump lost a fair election. Senator Grassley (right), an Iowa institution in its own right after seven terms as a United States Senator, recently declared both his intention to run for an eighth term and his loyalty to Trump.
In his own words:
If I didn’t take the approval of someone who has 91% of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart. I am smart enough to accept this approval.
But, clearly not smart enough to recognize the threat to the republic of believing the lies of petulant leaders that attack the very heart of its existence: free and fair elections.
After seven terms, I would have thought that a senator would feel secure in his own eligibility. In any case, when does the country take precedence over self-interest?
Boehner believes Democrats will experience their own Tea Party moment soon as far-left Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Jayapal, Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM) is gaining seniority and the managerial positions that go with it.
For there to be any chance Democrats will beat the odds of a midterm electoral defeat, it will be down to voter turnout. Enthusiasm and passion are precious goods, especially during off-year elections.
Biden understood the value of their progressives in the 2020 election. President Pelosi now understands their importance. I think that’s an important reason for their support for an aggressive climate action plan. There is no little irony in the fact that it is the Democratic left that defends the policies of a moderate Democratic president and Speaker of the House of Representatives against their more moderate colleagues.
There is no doubt that the final reconciliation package will be less than $ 3.5 trillion. President Pelosi sent a Dear Colleague note to her caucus indicating that this is the case.
Does this mean that Senators Manchin and Sinema won the day? No, not as long as the progressives keep their place at the negotiating table and continue to hold out on the infrastructure package.
Climate champions need to understand the Liberals’ persistence in keeping infrastructure and reconciliation bills at the hip. Manchin and Sinema continue to be shy about what they are willing to accept in the Build Back Better package.
Both men are very proud of the bipartisan infrastructure plan they helped negotiate. They too will have to tell their constituents what they have done for them lately. The infrastructure package is held hostage because that and their reputation as centrist negotiators is the only skin they have in the game.
They can of course believe that they will be able to blame any failure on the Liberals. It’s a risk they may want to take. In any case, they cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of an agreement, especially by simply saying no asset.
It is worth repeating Jayapal’s framing of the problem. The intra-party conflict is not a battle between conservative and liberal ideologies. This is a clash between 268 fellow Democrats in Congress and two aberrant senators and their own narrow interests.
Everyone understands that the final reconciliation package will be less than the $ 3.5 trillion currently mentioned. President Pelosi just tweeted her caucus explaining that the overwhelming advice she hosting Members means doing less well so that we can still have a transformative impact on families in the workplace and responsibly deal with the climate crisis.
Therefore, the questions that remain to be answered are what programs, and at what cost, will the climate be included in the final reconciliation package? Given the priority that the Democratic left gives to the fight against global warming, the final reconciliation plan will keep climate policies in the final mix at significant budget levels.
There is another reason why I am convinced that President Pelosi will not let climate policies be thrown under the bus. This battle is probably Pelosi’s last hurray. The Senate has denied it once before when Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to put the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill to a vote.
I am convinced that Madam President will do everything in her power to leave a legacy that includes aggressive federal climate policies. To be on the right side of the story, however, it will have to be done in advance before Christmas.
Main photo courtesy of Unspash