Today is Trumpanzee's 75th birthday-- may he never have a 76th-- and he is still the worst president, by far, inAmerican history. The Democrats should pass the For the People Act today to celebrate. But they won't. They don't seem able to do anything in fact-- not with Sinema and Manchin playing for McConnell. And yet... Bernie, probably the senator most cognizant of the GOP threat, still seems confident, according to Politico's Laura Barrón-López and Natasha Korecki that-- at least on the infrastructure front-- things are not as bleak as they appear.
Manchin and Sinema likely can't get their all-conservative proposal passed without a buy-in from Bernie and Bernie may well give them what they want-- as long as they back the massive reconciliation package he's putting together. Barrón-López and Korecki reported last night that Bernie isn't jumping up and down about the conservative exclusion of Climate Crisis amelioration in the conservative bill. "Nor is he among those loudly criticizing the White House for ongoing talks with GOP lawmakers. That’s because as a group of Republican and Democratic senators are trying to craft a bipartisan deal, Sanders is working in the background, helping jumpstart the next reconciliation package that seems likely to serve as the fallback option. And the text of that bill has yet to be written. From the beginning, Sanders has said Democrats should forgo rounds of negotiations with Republicans on a smaller, traditional infrastructure bill that addresses roads, bridges, and broadband. Instead, he’s argued that Democrats should immediately push a larger bill along party lines... [Bernie] is focused on building momentum for a reconciliation bill that will be the most consequential legislation for working people enacted since the 1930s."
Sanders isn’t as concerned as other progressives are about their priorities being left out of the overall infrastructure package because the budget process is only just beginning, the aide added. And Sanders believes strong climate provisions-- one of his biggest priorities-- will be in a reconciliation bill.
At the same time, Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has communicated to the White House that he thinks the bipartisan talks should wrap up, a source familiar with his interactions with the White House said.
The White House is in regular touch with both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sanders about infrastructure priorities, according to a White House official, who described its relationship with Sanders as strong. A Sanders aide also confirmed that the senator is in close touch with the White House and Schumer.
...Some Democrats are optimistic their priorities won’t be left behind because of Biden’s repeated comments that “inaction” on his entire package-- which includes money for eldercare, childcare and K-12 and higher education-- is unacceptable. Some progressives are sanguine, too, that the bipartisan talks will fail because they’ve repeatedly stalled over disagreements on how much total to spend and how to pay for the narrower bill.
...“Exhausting the bipartisan process around infrastructure-- whether it gets to a deal Biden can accept or not-- could actually help Manchin, Sinema and others get to ‘yes’ on whatever eventually emerges,” said Ben LaBolt, a former Obama aide and Democratic strategist close to the White House. “Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president and he will know not to wait for Godot if Republicans don’t engage in a good faith process. But to get to a good legislative outcome, it always made strategic sense to engage both parties in the Senate.”
...The White House has held steadfast to its strategy, which is to continue attempting at a deal with Republicans but, at the same time, move forward with the bureaucratic necessities in the Senate should no deal materialize.
“The president is fighting to deliver historic infrastructure investments that will generate economic growth, create middle class jobs, ensure our leadership in clean energy, and advance our competitiveness in the world,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said. “He and his team are engaged in good faith bipartisan negotiations towards that goal, and at the same time see multiple paths forward.”
But unease is growing among more and more Democratic senators the longer the infrastructure negotiations with Republicans continue.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) was one of multiple Democrats who warned about the exclusion of climate policies last week. A clean energy package that passed out of the Senate Finance Committee in May consolidated clean energy tax breaks and made them contingent upon emissions reduction. It is expected to be a central piece of the final package.
Wyden would need “ironclad assurances that reconciliation would move forward with robust climate, clean energy legislation to support moving anything on a separate track in a bipartisan way,” said a Senate Democratic aide.
The Biden administration says a dual-track approach is exactly what it’s pursuing, but progressive anxiety is reaching a boiling point. The longer it takes to pass infrastructure, progressives argue, the less time Biden will have to focus on other big agenda items. And voters are waiting for more aid to deal with the economic stressors brought on by the pandemic, they say.
“There’s no question they're working hard and I don't question their good intentions,” Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveON said of the White House. “Our concern is the dynamics in Congress are really slowing the progress.”
“We're very worried and we need to turn up the heat,” Epting added. “Business as usual is not what people voted for.”