The Hill reports that Nancy Pelosi is poised to postpone the vote on infrastructure legislation that was scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday). Apparently, Pelosi doesn’t have the votes to pass the $1 trillion bill.
It seems that fewer than a dozen House Republicans will vote for it. That’s not enough to overcome defections from hardcore leftist Democrats.
I’m surprised by this development. I thought that when push came to shove, only a handful of Dems would be willing to thumb their nose at a massive spending bill that promotes public transit and “clean” energy, among other pet liberal projects (and some projects that even most Republicans favor).
But it seems that leftist fever has gripped the Democratic party, or at least its elected officials in Washington, to the point that $1 trillion in spending on liberal projects is now viewed as an unacceptable consolation prize, if not chump change.
The purpose of delaying the vote from Pelosi’s perspective is to gain more time in which to determine the contours of reconciliation legislation that Sens. Manchin and Sinema will support. Absent a determination of those contours, and a determination that these contours go far enough, it looks like infrastructure legislation can’t pass the House — at least not this year.
But Manchin seems unwilling to offer contours that encompass the kind of massive spending spree the Democratic left wants. He said today:
What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity.
Add just one trillion in reconciliation money to the infrastructure bill and you’re already at “trillions.”
Manchin also pointed to another obstacle to securing his vote for a reconciliation package. Today, he told National Review that “reconciliation is “dead on arrival” if it doesn’t include the Hyde Amendment barring federal funding of abortions.
The current legislation violates this requirement. It creates a Medicaid-style program for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare. This new program circumvents the Hyde Amendment.
Manchin isn’t ruling out passing a reconciliation package this year. What he says he wants is “a pause” during which Senators can take good look at what the legislation would do, how much it would cost, and how to pay for it. I’m old enough to remember when taking that kind of look before passing major legislation was considered not just reasonable, but essential.
Expanding on what kind of legislation he would accept, Manchin said:
I want to do a tax overhaul. The one thing you understand that all Democrats agreed on, and that’s not a lot of things that we all agreed on right, the 2017 tax cuts were unfair and weighted to the high end.
Let’s fix that… and then if there’s some good things we can do, and the President has some things we really want to do. We can work out a child tax credit.
Manchin pointed to the assistance for children and help for seniors as two broad areas that could be included in the spending bill, but reiterated that he wants means testing, i.e., income-related caps on the assistance.
If one takes Manchin’s words seriously, and there’s no reason not to, one would conclude that he’s simply not going to give the left anything close to what it wants on reconciliation. If getting trillions in spending is a condition for passing infrastructure legislation, Pelosi might as well hold a vote tomorrow and put that bill out of its misery if it comes to that.
However, leftist Dems like Bernie Sanders think they can gain leverage with Manchin by holding out on infrastructure. They know the West Virginia Senator very much wants to see bipartisan infrastructure legislation pass. By holding it hostage to the passage of a massive reconciliation package, Sanders and company believe they can get Manchin to yield.
But Manchin probably understands that he has the stronger hand. If infrastructure legislation doesn’t pass this year on its own, it probably can next year, if it comes to that. By then congressional Dems, about to face the electorate, will be desperate to point to something significant they accomplished.
I’m happy for this drama to continue into next year, especially if it keeps producing hysteria among Democratic cheerleaders like Dana Milbank. This column is worthy of the Washington Post’s clown prince.
As Steve notes, lefty cheerleaders are beside themselves that Manchin and Sinema won’t commit to trillions of dollars in new spending that Americans don’t want rubber stamped. Why, they wonder, should these two have so much power?
I admit having wondered the same thing, albeit with less intensity, at times when Manchin and Sinema voted with their party on matters important to me — as they almost always do.
In truth, however, the views of Manchin and Sinema align far more closely with the views of America as a whole than they do either with Milbanks’s or mine. Obviously, that doesn’t mean their view of a particular matter, or their views in general, are correct. But there’s nothing undemocratic about them having the power they possess.