May 18, 2021

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Nothing prevents Democrats from going on infrastructure alone, except Democrats

Nothing prevents Democrats from going on infrastructure alone, except Democrats


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If the Democrats wanted to approve a linear, party infrastructure plan with a price tag of 13 figures, they could. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer snatched the green light from Senate rules experts in February that would have allowed Democrats to block a massive spending plan through a budget loophole. And, assuming all Democrats keep the line and Vice President Kamala Harris is available that day, Democrats have the votes to spend the $ 2 trillion dollars on streets, airports, schools, and the Internet that President Joe Biden outlined. Republicans can complain and attack, but they can’t stop it without the help of the Democrats.

Democrats, however, are unwilling to go that route, at least not yet. Specifics differ between camps, but the prevailing desire here is the same: Democrats want to stay in power, and the backlash of an all-blue team bill on something that should be blatantly attractive across the spectrum would make their brittle. even more dangerous majority.

There are some, such as Sens. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, who know they are already on loan in the House, represent states that don’t normally send Democrats to Washington. Going a full-fledged partisan would cut back against their claims that they are independent politicians who are fighting for their constituents and are not doing the bidding of Democrats in general. Arizona loves a good maverick, and both Sinema and Kelly wrapped themselves in that cloak. We’ve already written in The DC Brief about Manchin’s politics and the pressure he faces at home in West Virginia, the state that gave Trump his second biggest margin of victory.

Others like Biden-whispering Sen. Chris Coons thinks there’s no reason to move unilaterally when it’s in Republican interest to make sure their tunnels don’t collapse on voters. Again this week, Coons praised the Republicans’ $ 568 billion counter-proposal to the $ 2 trillion proposal as a good place to start, despite its small scale. In the end, it would only be about one-tenth of the new money Biden is looking for. But, sure, let’s start with something, these Democrats argue.

The White House is not urging its allies to get in line in pursuing a one-sided bill, or by putting pressure on the lammakers or by promising to have the backs of vulnerable members when the time comes to run again. At her daily briefing, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the White House welcomes the GOP counter and Biden will invite the authors to meet next week. Biden has previously worked with Republicans with oval office visits and patient listening sessions. Even Biden’s harshest critics have appreciated the fact that the president appears genuinely engaged and has taken notes.

All of this leaves Schumer in a kind of sealing scheme. Democrats in the House, led by President Nancy Pelosi, have shown no hesitation in going it alone, as they did in the latest round of stimulus spending to tackle the COVID-19 economy. Schumer could do the same, as he did with that bill, which passed 50-49. (Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska missed the vote to attend his father-in-law’s funeral.)

Biden thinks the infrastructure plan deserves the Republican buy-in. It might as well be the case, but he was also in the room in 2009 when Obama’s team chased the Republican votes for their stimulus package, to fail in the House and ultimately win just three Republican senators. It was the same way that the Obama team spent months negotiating with the Republicans on what we call Obamacare; In the end, no Republican voted in favor even after the Democrats watered it down and reduced its size and ambitions.

Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham have already talked about how they would implement procedural hiccups to delay an all-democratic path. The Senate MP has given Schumer a path to pass infrastructure along a party vote, but the underlying Senate rules can still stumble Democrats if they get too greedy. This is one of the reasons the White House maintains a level of optimism that officials can turn a measure into law with broad support and without parliamentary deceptions.

But doing so would require everyone involved to put aside their situational awareness. Progressives have been very public about their desire to dismantle the filibuster with 60 votes in the Senate for most of the legislation. Well, filibuster is not a factor here. Democrats could unite and pass this as a partisan piece of legislation. There aren’t many signs that the Republicans will arrive. After all, they all opposed the latest stimulus bill and then bragged to voters about all the goodies they were coming home to. No, really. What happened. Yet. In Pelosi’s words, “they vote no and take pasta”.

But Schumer knows politics better than anyone else in this city. Of course, it could force Manchin to take a difficult vote. But he will also sacrifice perhaps the only Democrat who can win that seat in the state. Without exception, Manchin may be a thorn in the Democrats’ side, but he’s much better for their agenda than his latest opponent, a former pharmaceutical lobbyist who as West Virginia attorney general spent quite some time fighting the EPA. of Obama and the security of arms. regulations.

It’s similar for Sinema and Kelly. The Republicans of Arizona are yet fighting Biden’s victory in the state, conducting an audit this week trying to prove Trump’s baseless claims that the fraud cost him the state. Biden became the first Democrat to win electoral votes from the state since 1996. Democrats can he win in Arizona; it’s just that they don’t win when they run like real blue partisans. The question remains: is it worth winning this vote for Schumer to return the majority to Republican leader Mitch McConnell for at least another two years?

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