Did You Ever Really Think Biden Gave A damn About Climate?
The latest misery of the on-going hashing out of an infrastructure and jobs bill was best summed up on Monday evening in a National Review headline: Joe Manchin Just Blew Up Rationale for Republicans to Cut an Infrastructure Deal. Republican partisan Philip Klein, who is on Team Trump in regard to sabotaging the bill, reported that "one argument that defenders of the negotiations have been making to conservatives is that if Republicans agree on a bipartisan deal, moderates such as Senator Joe Manchin will be more likely to oppose the larger Democrats-only $3.5 trillion bill crammed with liberal priorities. But now even that flimsy argument has blown up." He quoted Manchin's statement from earlier in the day: "I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart, everything falls apart." And ten moves in for the kill:
Far from supporting the theory that a bipartisan deal would dissuade Manchin from supporting the bigger bill, Manchin is making it clear that he thinks agreeing to a bipartisan deal is a critical part of passing the combined spending package. Were it to fall apart, instead of breaking the massive agenda into several smaller parts that may be digestible, moderates will have to consider swallowing a massive $4.1 trillion bill. Additionally, the process would no longer have any bipartisan cover.
So make no mistake. Any Republican that votes for the bipartisan charade is greasing the wheels for Democrats to ram through their entire agenda-- on climate; expanding Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare; subsidizing college and childcare; and a host of other liberal priorities.
At dawn this morning Roll Call reporters Jessica Wehrman and Joseph Morton wrote about where the bill stands today. Many in Congress and wondering how and why a gaggle of conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans, none of whom understand the urgency of the Climate Crisis-- along with a conservative president-- are writing an inadequate transportation bill that many see as crap-- without any input from progressives or anyone else not buying into a narrow, stilted conservative vision. Normal committees that deal with the issues have been "cut out of negotiating on issues in their areas of jurisdiction, and it’s led to confusion and occasional hard feelings as arcane policy details are hammered out by 22 lawmakers who are mostly not members of those committees."
The self-appointed group of conservatives-- called "bipartisan" by a brain-dead media-- include no experts in infrastructure... and they're messing up badly. Establishment figures like Tom Carper, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Ben Cardin, chair of EPW’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Tammy Duckworth, chair of EPW's Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, and Dick Durbin, Senate Majority Whip are not exactly AOC, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal-- but are feeling very cut out of a bill within their own purview and jurisdiction. "'With apologies to Lennon and McCartney, it was a long and winding road because of that lack of familiarity with the issues,' Carper said Tuesday. Duckworth said none of three relevant chairpersons-- including herself, Carper and Cardin-- was consulted on the water money. That lack of consultation, she said, 'just wasn’t tenable.'"
And that isn't even close to the tension between the conservative negotiators and House Democrats, where Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Pete DeFazio said the framework "'not only undercuts the House, it undercuts the subject matter experts in the Senate.' His five-year surface transportation and water bill, which passed the House on July 1, has effectively been ignored during the process. DeFazio criticized the framework, saying it is being crafted 'by these self-appointed experts who I'm not aware have any significant history in transportation policy.' He said he's wary of the precedent set by a group of Senate negotiators cutting deals with the White House and leaving out the House altogether. 'We've become unicameral, with, you know, diktats from the White House and the Senate,' he said. 'No, that's not acceptable to the House of Representatives.'"
DeFazio, a member of the transportation committee since he came to Congress in 1987, is affronted by the framework’s inattention to climate change, saying the negotiators are neglecting an ideal opportunity to address the threat.
“Transportation is the largest fossil fuel emitter,” he said. “And anybody today who says there is no climate change is a jerk and an idiot.
"To do a transportation bill that doesn't meaningfully deal with fossil fuel pollution from the largest source would be a travesty, and to lock in that policy for five years would be disastrous," said DeFazio, who indicated he does not plan to vote for the Senate framework.
Last night, Politico's Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris noted that "DeFazio is on the verge of getting rolled. And he’s not going quietly. After a 34-year congressional career devoted to transportation and environment issues, the Oregon Democrat could soon be forced to watch his life’s work shunted to the side if Senate negotiators secure a deal this week on a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package-- largely without House input. In a fiery tirade to fellow Democrats during a closed-door meeting Tuesday, DeFazio called the bill 'crap.' He blasted the White House and Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who he referred to as the three 'Republicans' crafting the Senate deal. 'I could give a damn about the White House. We’re an independent branch of government,' DeFazio said in a brief interview afterwards. 'They cut this deal. I didn’t sign off on it.' As the third most senior Democrat in the House and a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, DeFazio is the rare battleground incumbent who could hardly be confused for a moderate."
“He’s the tiger of the House,” said former GOP Rep. Greg Walden, who served 20 years in the Oregon delegation with DeFazio before retiring last year.
“He’ll take on his own leadership, he’ll take on his own colleagues. And he’ll also be your biggest ally and friend," Walden added. "I’ve been in both situations.”
But while DeFazio has been the most vocal against the emerging Senate deal, he’s not alone in the House as senators try to close out the massive bill. Democrats across the caucus have begun working through the stages of grief-- anger, denial, eventual acceptance-- as they brace for a vote in which they might need to simply rubber-stamp a sprawling Senate measure while their own infrastructure legislation gathers dust across the Capitol.
...One of DeFazio’s biggest complaints is that the Senate bill includes virtually none of his priorities on climate change at a time when the West Coast, including parts of his southwest Oregon district, is burning up. Privately, he has told his colleagues those provisions are also unlikely to make it into the Democratic-only spending bill, which will need to pass muster with the Senate’s budget rules.
But while Democrats say DeFazio is unlikely to walk away from the fight, few expect him to trample on a chance for a massive Biden win-- giving him limited time to make his case.
“I’m glad that he’s sticking with it, because it’s important,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a fellow progressive from Oregon. “He knows probably more than anybody in Congress on the nuts and bolts.”
...Few Democrats believe DeFazio will be able to secure what he truly wants-- to go to conference with the Senate and meld the two bills together. White House officials have dismissed the idea of a conference, privately cautioning Democrats they don’t want to risk delaying the bill, or worse, blowing it up altogether.
Now, two camps have developed in the House Democratic caucus: those who have accepted they will likely need to swallow whatever is sent across the Capitol, and those who still think they can significantly shape the Senate product. Even progressives have mostly held their fire on the Senate talks because they see the cross-aisle back-and-forth as a means to an end. Without a bipartisan deal, they may not get their massive $3.5 trillion social spending plan that Democrats plan to pass without Republican support.
But for DeFazio, this infrastructure bill is the end. The Oregon Democrat has worked toward these policies his entire career, and it’s unclear if he’ll get another chance at a bill this big while he holds the panel's gavel. Transportation bills only happen every handful of years, and Democrats are increasingly pessimistic about their odds of keeping the House next November.
...Privately, lawmakers and aides admit what no one wants to say out loud: DeFazio’s demands for a conference committee to mesh House and Senate priorities will likely not be met. And with a 50-50 Senate, House Democrats would probably need to just pass any deal the Senate strikes.
Look who's pissed off, fuming, fulminating and threatening now that the bill looks like it's going through. "If this deal happens," he barked at Senate Republicans, "lots of primaries will be coming your way," especially funny coming the day after one of his endorsed candidates in Texas, lost her special election race, specifically because he endorsed her.
The process was highjacked by a gaggle of conservatives could never have happened without white House connivance and encouragement, largely under the auspices of Biden's most conservative and corrupt corporate whore, Steve Ricchetti. The Republicans wouldn't think twice about blowing up the bill at the drop of a hat-- it's probably already baked into the cake anyway-- but Democrats are... meow, meow, meow and may fume and stomp around, but don't have the guts to tell Biden NO!