Thanks to an internal civil war that is bringing me great joy, House Democrats appear missed a vote on their bipartisan infrastructure bill for the second time this week. The stalemate is primarily due to the massive social benefits package at the core of Joe Biden’s agenda, which is so outrageous that a significant number of so-called moderate Dims refuse to get on board.
Nancy Pelosi arose from her solar coffin to re-schedule the infrastructure vote for Thursday, reflecting the urgent need to get a bipartisan win and prove that Democrats can govern. The initial infrastructure vote was scheduled for Monday but was postponed. The moderate wing was less than impressed, so little impressed that they threatened to revolt if it’s postponed again.
“Obviously, our group will have a lot of trouble with that,” said centrist Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas). “And it will be catastrophic.”
The postponement was not due to so-called moderates finding their conscience, however. It’s the progressive, Crazy Bernie wing lining up to sink the infrastructure proposal, demanding that Democrats in the House, Senate and White House first reach an agreement on the broader “family” benefits package Biden is pushing as part of his two-pronged domestic agenda. Only then, they say, will they back the Senate-passed public works bill.
“We already put out our vision, and we’re going to stick to that vision,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), head of the influential Congressional Progressive Caucus, aka the Communist Caucus (AOC, Ilhan Omar, etc), which is leading the charge against a standalone vote on the infrastructure bill.
Put in layman’s terms, the communist caucus in the House want to use infrastructure as leverage to get all the other goodies on their list, and they’re willing to kill infrastructure altogether if they don’t get it.
So how did this come about?
The answer is to be found in the upper chamber of Congress. Two so-called centrist senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, have made clear that the massive $3.5 trillion Bernie Bro wishlist would die a horrific death in the Senate should it arrive on the floor. That reality has spurred the Communist Caucus to take more drastic action to ensure its passage, and they see taking infrastructure hostage as their only hope.
More than anything, the far left want to abolish the filibuster, which would allow them to pass anything they like with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate (the vice president being the tie-breaker). Since there is little hope of getting 10 Republicans to support their spending extravaganza, the abolishment of the filibuster is their only hope. It would be a stretch even then, since they’d have to keep all 50 Dim senators on board for VP Harris to cast the winning vote, but it would at least give them a shot. Neither Manchin nor Sinema support killing the filibuster, nor do they support the $3.5T spending bill in its current form.
With such tiny majorities in both chambers, Dims can expect to have these types of problems with virtually any legislation that is proposed. That is why the bipartisan infrastructure bill is so important. It gives Dims a badly needed win that they may not sniff again during Biden’s presidency. It could also give them momentum with other agenda items.
Dims have only a 4-vote majority in the House, a razor thin advantage with no room for error. The Crazy Bernie cult–we’ll call them the Suicide Squad for the sake of this piece–numbers about 9, though it can grow to 10 if one of the moderates dropped LSD that day. As of now, Pelosi has only managed to garner 7 votes from Republicans (that’s the bipartisan part), which would leave them short of the majority needed if the Suicide Squad stick together.
Pelosi has no choice but to take the threat seriously, especially now that Crazy Bernie himself has announced that “his friends in the House have informed him the bill won’t pass” unless the communists’ conditions are met. That’s code for “I’ve activated my suicide bombers.”
That leaves Pelosi with two unsavory options from which to choose: either stick with the plan to bring the infrastructure bill to the floor, where liberals are likely to kill it, or delay it again, and infuriate the moderates.
Although so-called moderates dwarf the communist caucus in number, the communists understand that their votes will make or break the infrastructure bill. They’ve got leverage and they intend to use it. The suicide vests have been activated and there is nothing left to do but enjoy the blast. It’s beautiful to watch.
And so that brings us to here.
Faced with a seemingly impossible needle to thread, Pelosi has sought to placate all sides, declaring that the vote is still on and will be held on Thursday — a message quickly hailed by her moderate wing. But she also laid out several parameters that appeared highly unlikely to be met in such a short window of time.
First, she said the infrastructure and family packages must move “simultaneously” — the same criterion demanded by the communists. And second, she stipulated that the legislative text of the larger package must be finalized before the House will act on either bill.
“We come to a place where we have agreement in legislative language — not just principle, in legislative language — that the president supports,” she said. “It has to be his standard.”
The notion of drafting a bill so quickly appeared to be out of reach on Wednesday afternoon, especially given that there’s still no agreement on even the top-line number. And if there was any doubt that the idea was ill-fated, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), quickly dashed it in his meeting with the press.
“That won’t happen,” Manchin said bluntly.
Additionally, Pelosi has vowed never to bring a bill to the floor without knowing it will pass — a promise she’s extended to the infrastructure vote. Most on the Hill believe she’ll stick to that policy, especially since a defeat would be tremendously embarrassing for a president who has already had more than his share during his first term in office.
For now, though, Democratic leaders say they’re planning to muscle ahead with Thursday’s vote.
“I expect an infrastructure vote tomorrow,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
Expect as he may, the communist wing continues to warn that the votes simply aren’t there right now.
Pelosi set the Thursday date on the bipartisan infrastructure bill since it coincides with the expiration of some surface transportation programs. Congress also must send a spending bill to Biden by Thursday to avert a government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said that lawmakers may have to pass a short-term extension of transportation programs if the bipartisan bill doesn’t pass on Thursday. “One way or another, we will take care of it,” DeFazio said. “We will have a Plan B if we need a Plan B. Right now, I’m not intending to have a Plan B.”
No one ever does.
As President Trump would say, the Democrat party is a #BigFatMess.
But it is a big fat mess of their own making. Biden extended his hand to Bernie and his minions in an effort not to alienate the young base of the party. Biden promised Bernie a big stick within the party if he got on board the dementia train and Bernie obliged. And true to their word, Biden’s handlers set up Bernie with a cushy and influential gig as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. (Communists love to be chairmen of stuff.)
So now the Establishment are forced to deal with the monster they fed for the past year. The Bernie Bros have a seat at the table and they’re not about to let it go to waste. At one point, infrastructure looked to be an unstoppable force, but by all accounts, it’s met an immovable object.
But I’m afraid the warring progressive and centrist factions of the House Democratic Caucus are running out of time to wait for each other to blink.
Moderates have said that another postponement will be “catastrophic” and cause the party to sever irrevocably. The communists have vowed not to budge. Yet Pelosi says a vote will be happening Thursday, despite her own pledge not to bring anything to the floor that won’t pass.
No matter what, someone is going to have to be proved a liar. That, or the Biden presidency will implode before the entire country before we get to the weekend.
Will Pelosi work her legislative magic and get enough members of the Suicide Squad to cave and pass the bill? Don’t underestimate her. She may be a Botox-laden succubus but she knows how to cut deals behind closed doors. She is the female Dim version of Mitch McConnell; both a product of the Swamp and the embodiment of it.
Should she fail, though–and there is a good chance she will–she will be forced to pick her poison. Who does she anger? How does she cut bait when she can’t afford to lose either side?
Frankly, I don’t know. And frankly, I don’t care which poison she picks…so long as it’s not ingested before I get my popcorn.
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