In an address to congressional Democrats on Friday, President Biden dampened the sense of urgency surrounding a nonpartisan infrastructure vote and squashed liberal ambitions of a $3.5 trillion spending plan. Democrat leaders accepted defeat a few hours later – at least for the time being.
They Had to Resort to Emergency Measures to Keep the Money Flowing
Nancy Pelosi and her squad passed legislation momentarily funding due-to-expire mass transit initiatives; they then sent frustrated representatives home until they can come up with a solution.
This came after days of trying unsuccessfully to find a compromise that both the progressive and centrist sectors of the Democrat caucus could endorse. In a short interview Friday evening, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated, “It’s not a victory. Our goal is to pass both of these bills.”
Pelosi said in a statement late Friday “more time is required” to establish a consensus on a legislative framework for Democrats’ welfare spending proposal. This must come before the House can vote on the infrastructure package, postponing a vote on the bipartisan effort for the third time and enraging moderates.
Hidden inside the 2,500-page, $3.5 trillion spending bill is a provision that imposes fines of $70K to $700,000K on employers who refuse to comply with Biden's vaccine mandate.
This is medical tyranny.
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) September 30, 2021
The lacklustre conclusion to a week of high-stakes discussions enraged moderates; moderates then blamed their Democrat colleagues for sidetracking what they regarded as a straightforward — and crucial — party victory.
While moderates raged, it was a strategic triumph for Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal. Jayapal fought toe-to-toe with her own coalition’s leaders and cemented liberals’ clout in the caucus, defying the hopes of some in her own organization.
“People really had amazing buy-in to the approach, to the message, and were down to fight for everyone and leave no one behind,” Jayapal said as he walked out of the Senate on Friday evening.
Biden Came to Solve the Issue, He Failed
Underlying the usual story of intraparty strife, liberals were concerned the inability to reach an agreement on their social spending measure, or pass an infrastructure bill this week, would have long-term ramifications.
Some lawmakers departed the Capitol after a frantic day of talks — an hour with Biden — wondering if their party was on track to achieving either of Biden’s big domestic goals.
Those who want to maintain the status quo in which the rich get richer while ordinary Americans struggle to make ends meet oppose the reconciliation bill.
Well, I disagree. Now is the time, finally, for Congress to stand up for working families.https://t.co/0l8nC9M8gT
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 29, 2021
Pelosi struck seemingly contradictory agreements with the two distinct sections of her party, amid growing threats during Biden’s trip to the Capitol, which capped a frenetic three months.
These commitments clashed this week; it’s unclear if Biden, Pelosi, as well as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, will be able to re-establish enough support to carry through any element of the administration’s domestic agenda.
While many Democrats thought Biden’s rare presence on Friday (his first in-person meeting with Democrats in the Capitol as president) would help mobilize support for the $550 billion infrastructure program, it had the opposite effect.