President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer failed to thread the needle between restive corners of their caucuses on a self-imposed (or “self-inflicted,” in the words of one House Democrat) deadline to pass a core tenet of their domestic agenda.
Barring some unseen dramatic shift, there appear to be only two real options in the hours ahead:
- Hold the scheduled vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and watch it fail
- Pull the bill
The bottom line is that Biden and Pelosi, after days of feverish behind-the-scenes efforts, enter the day with no clear path to securing a majority in the scheduled vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. But the process isn’t over, that agenda isn’t dead and there are still weeks, if not months, ahead of negotiations, according to multiple White House officials and lawmakers.
Pelosi told CNN’s Manu Raju the plan was still to put the infrastructure bill on the floor. That followed a meeting with Biden and Schumer in the Oval Office.
But four days ago, she said this on ABC’s “This Week”:
“I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.”
Where things stand at the moment: The dynamics haven’t shifted in the last several weeks. In many ways, they’ve only grown more entrenched.
Progressive Democrats aren’t just planning to withhold their votes from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill unless they receive progress on the second, multi-trillion economic and climate package. They have been asking for legislative text. They want to know exactly what they are getting in the bigger bill before they sign on to moderates’ infrastructure plan. It’s called leverage, but it’s also called bringing Biden’s agenda to the brink.
“We cannot negotiate with ourselves,” Rep. Katie Porter, a progressive, told CNN. “People say, ‘Are you willing to negotiate with Sen. Manchin?’ On what?”
Only two senators can provide that — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Neither have done so, nor do they plan to, according to people who have spoken to both in the last 24 hours.
So things are frozen, and will likely remain so until there is public movement from the two moderate hold-outs.