They're all so profoundly wretched-- and so dedicated to maintaining a corrupt status quo-- that it barely matters if one is slightly better or worse than the other. The Democratic Party would-- in every way-- be better off without the 5 of them. But since the only one I know personally is Sinema-- and because she's the only one of the 5 who is certifiably insane and incapable of thinking beyond herself, let me continue making a case I started making a decade ago-- that Kyrsten Sinema is the worst Democratic elected official in America.
Most people think Manchin is the worst. And it's hard to make a case that he's not. He's a dangerous, corrupt creature with no redeeming value as a politician and not the slightest concern for the suckers in West Virginia who have given him the career he has turned into great wealth for himself and his criminal Big PhRMA daughter. But... at least he's rational and he can be negotiated with. Sinema is out of her mind and impossible to reason with. That's what makes her worse than Manchin.
How about this for a headline: Scoop: Sinema issues ultimatum to Biden? According the Politico this morning, Sinema "delivered a tough message to Biden at a private meeting Wednesday, we’re told: If the House delays its scheduled Sept. 27 vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan-- or if the vote fails-- she won’t be backing a reconciliation bill." Sinema is not the only corrupt conservative shit-eater taking this stand. Rep. Kurt Schrader (R-OR)-- one of approximately 10 right-wing Democrats who hate the working class "playing hardball with leadership-- said he and several members of their group are on the same page. Some of the lawmakers have conveyed that message up the chain to leadership and the White House. A senior Democratic aide confirmed the warnings. 'If they delay the vote-- or if it goes down-- then I think you can kiss reconciliation goodbye,' Schrader told Playbook. 'Reconciliation would be dead.'"
What does Schrader have to do with reconciliation, which is just a Senate operation? From the beginning, Manchin and Sinema have been plotting with the 10 corrupt conservative Dems-- the No Labels crew trying to kill Biden's agenda-- and their transparent strategy was always to maneuver Pelosi into promising them a date for a House vote on the hard infrastructure bill before the human infrastructure bill so that they could then kill it. Pramila Jayapal and other progressives say they won't allow a separate House vote.
The time crunch and threat from the left has led many to question whether the speaker will try to postpone the infrastructure vote. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday that a delay is possible.
But the [right wing assholes who are all really Republicans with "D"s next to their name] new threat indicates that a delay would not end well. “That’d be foolish on their part,” Schrader told us, noting that Clyburn, Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were in the room when the promise was made to them to take up the infrastructure plan on Sept. 27. “That would indicate they’re not playing fair in the sandbox… It would be a travesty if they try to play games.”
Asked about her exchange with Biden, Sinema's office neither confirmed nor denied the account: "Kyrsten does not share details of private conversations with President Biden or her colleagues.” However, her office added: “She does look forward to House leadership making good on their commitment to an up-or-down vote on the historic and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act next Monday-- to create jobs and expand economic opportunities across the country.” ...
Inside the [Right wing Dems'] calculation: Progressives think if they band together and threaten to kill the infrastructure bill, it will convince moderate members to go along with the larger reconciliation package. But multiple sources-- including a senior Democratic aide and several in the centrist camp-- tell us the left is misreading their colleagues.
The upshot: Some [right-wing scumbags] privately have decided that no infrastructure bill is better than one that’s paired with $3.5 trillion in spending.
So let's play this out: If the vote happens Sept. 27, it’s going to be close. [Corrupt conservative scumbags] think progressives are bluffing when they say half their 96-person caucus is willing to vote “no”-- especially once Pelosi and Biden start whipping. But even if only 20 progressives oppose the bill, that means the party is going to have to rely on Republicans to pass it, since Pelosi can lose only three votes.
This could be a real problem, Leadership aides have openly acknowledged they don’t know if they have the votes to pass it. While 19 Republicans backed the BIF in the Senate, few expect that level of support to translate to the House, where [Señor Trumpanzee's] hold on GOP members is much stronger.
Perhaps you're an optimist and think these threats are the kind of posturing you’d expect with major legislation, and that Democrats will ultimately figure it out because the alternative would be a lot worse. It could happen! But at this moment, it does not look promising.
Remember the big fuss a few days ago when corrupt right wing Dems Schrader, Kathleen Rice and Scott Peters tried killing the prescription drug plan on behalf on their big campaign donors? Sinema is part of that too of course. [She's taking more in direct bribes from PhRMA right now than any other criminal in Congress. She should be prosecuted and locked up for a couple of decades. That might wipe the smiles off her vicious face.] Last night Laura Barrón-López reported that Sinema, who hates working class Americans with every fiber of her body and voted with Republicans to kill a raise in the minimum wage, won't even support a much more modest drug price reduction plan that other conservative Dems are pushing.
Both she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who met with the president the same day, delivered what one source described as a sobering message for the White House about the fate of the reconciliation bill and its $3.5 trillion price tag, which they both say is too high. The social spending plan is designed to pass without GOP votes through budget reconciliation, meaning that Biden will need to win all 50 Senate Democratic votes to secure its passage.
“As she committed, Kyrsten is working directly in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” said John LaBombard, a Sinema spokesperson, who declined to discuss the prescription drug measure. “Given the size and scope of the proposal, while those discussions are ongoing we are not offering detailed comment on any one proposed piece of the package.”
Sinema’s concerns about the prescription drug component combined with Manchin’s more publicly stated opposition to the current reconciliation bill cast significant doubt on Biden’s ability to get the votes to pass his signature domestic initiative.
Biden and Manchin left their Wednesday meeting in a stalemate, according to two sources briefed on the conversation. The West Virginia Democrat said he couldn’t support a $3.5 trillion package, a detail first reported by Axios. But the disagreements between the two went beyond that. When discussing the size of the bill, Biden cited the need to win progressive votes as well, implying that any significant modifications could cost him support on the left.
Manchin also pressed Biden about moving the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill first as they figured out an agreement on the reconciliation package, according to the two sources. Biden said it was a no-go, telling Manchin the infrastructure bill couldn’t advance further without some commitment from Manchin to move forward on reconciliation. Manchin didn’t offer that commitment, the two sources said, describing the back-and-forth as respectful but direct.
Though both Manchin and Sinema have made clear, publicly and privately, that they are willing to negotiate on the party-line social spending proposal, their opposition to the current version has irritated fellow Democrats who see a unique opportunity to muscle through major domestic legislation. The reconciliation bill would boost child care, paid family leave and expand Medicare while spending potentially historic sums to combat climate change.
“The last two miles of the marathon are always the toughest, but there remains strong conviction and unity to finish this thing and do something historic,” said John Podesta, former counselor to President Barack Obama and one of the most prominent advocates for aggressive climate action through the reconciliation bill. “I think the real question is how big, not whether.”
The drug price negotiation changes that Sinema is coming out against are a major component of the bill’s envisioned financing. Democrats are counting on them to raise as much as $700 billion over 10 years to pay for the party-line bill’s ambitious programs. Axing it could imperil the health care reform components in the social spending plan, such as a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and supported by Biden, that would expand Medicare coverage to hearing, dental and vision.
The prescription-drug pricing measure is also one of the biggest elements championed by the White House. In speeches this summer, Biden highlighted the proposal as popular across the electorate.
“The President, his Cabinet, and White House senior staff are continuously engaged in discussions with a wide spectrum of members about the Build Back Better agenda,” said Andrew Bates, a White House spokesperson. “And good progress is being made. We urgently need to cut taxes for working families and reduce the cost of prescription drugs, education, health care, child care, and care for older Americans; and pay for it by restoring fairness to our tax code.”
Sinema ranks as one of Congress’ leading recipients of pharmaceutical industry donations, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News. The Arizona Senator is not the only Democrat expressing concerns with the party’s approach to drug negotiation. A trio of centrist House lawmakers voted against the measure in the Energy and Commerce Committee this week and a fourth voted against it in the Ways and Means Committee.
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) was one of those centrists. In a letter sent to the Alliance for Retired Americans advocacy group two days after the vote, the congresswoman said she supported “the goals” of the Democratic bill to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. Unlike her past votes in favor of it, however, Rice wrote, her committee vote was not on a “clean, stand-alone bill.”
“Instead, the H.R. 3 drug pricing language was being used as a tool to offset the cost of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill,” Rice wrote in the letter, obtained by Politico. “That bill has no chance to become a law, as Democrats in the Senate have stated that a bill with such a price tag will not have the votes to pass in their chamber.”
Rice’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Democratic leadership is under a tight, self-imposed deadline to resolve these differences. House leaders have promised to hold a vote on the Senate infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, which is designed to happen in tandem with the reconciliation package. But with progressives threatening to withhold their votes if the party-line package remains uncertain, it’s unclear if the infrastructure bill can pass. Centrists in the House and Senate expect the total $3.5 trillion price tag for the package to shrink. They’re also unhappy with the pace set by the White House and Democratic leaders.
“The way we're moving this along so quickly puts the House in a position where individual members of the House really won't be involved in making the choices about what we fund,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), one of the four House Democrats to vote against the prescription drug pricing measure considered in two committees this week. “The bipartisan bill took five and a half months; we're trying to do a bigger bill-- a 3 1/2 trillion-dollar bill-- in five weeks.”
Peters argued his proposal was better suited to win widespread support. It would limit the number of drugs that Medicare would be able to negotiate over, provide a $50 monthly cap on insulin costs, and generate lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors most in need. But progressives have lambasted the centrists for seeking major changes to a critical pillar of the package, saying it is both less ambitious and threatens all of the other health care reforms.
“There should be some accountability mechanisms here against people who step out of line at this juncture on such a core issue that nets 80 to 90 percent approval in a lot of these districts,” said Faiz Shakir, a political adviser to Sanders. “All three of these candidates should get primary challenges.”
Peters responded that he’ll “focus on the campaign next year. Right now, we’re focused on lowering prescription drug prices.”
You'll be happy to know that I introduced Shakir to Mark Gamba, the progressive Democratic mayor of Milwaukie, Oregon who is primarying Schrader. Please consider helping Gamba's campaign-- and those of other progressives taking on corrupt conservative Blue Dogs in 2022 primaries-- but clicking on the Primary A Blue Dog thermometer on the left. The DCCC and the DSCC will never learn that by recruiting and supporting conservative candidates for Congress, they wind up with untenable and potentially disastrous outcomes like this.