What price bipartisanship?

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the bipartisan infrastructure deal was in a “precarious state” because the Republicans who are a party to the negotiations were balking over details, particularly the idea of beefing up the IRS in order to raise revenue to help pay for the legislation. Today, Politico reports that the needed Republican votes probably aren’t there to agree to anything on Chuck Schumer’s timetable. Schumer has scheduled a cloture vote this week.

Declining to vote in favor of cloture this week would seem like a no-brainer because no one yet knows what legislation he or she would be voting to limit debate on. The bipartisan infrastructure legislation has yet to be drafted. As Sen. Portman said:

We can’t support cloture for something we haven’t accomplished yet. It is absurd to move forward with a vote on something that’s not yet formulated.

Right. Especially when, as noted above, contentious issues have not been ironed out even informally.

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter much whether the Senate passes a bipartisan bill. If it does, Democrats will snatch whatever else they want by way of spending (and other things) through reconciliation, which requires only 50 votes plus the vice president’s. If it doesn’t pass bipartisan legislation, the Democrats will simply add the spending that would have been in that bill to their reconciliation package.

Only two people really matter in this process: Joe Manchin and the Senate parliamentarian.

That said, I hope Sens. Portman, Graham, Romney, etc. will jump off the bipartisan train and make the Democrats go it alone unless, in exchange for bipartisanship, Sen. Manchin agrees to substantial limits on what will be done through reconciliation. If nothing else, making the Dems go it alone will prevent Biden from claiming, speciously, that he’s brought the parties together.