Blame Manchin and Sinema for the Delay on the Infrastructure Vote

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Blame Manchin and Sinema for the Delay on the Infrastructure Vote

All day Thursday, I found myself torn about whether the House Progressive Caucus should accept a “framework” for a pared-down “Build Back Better” bill in exchange for its members’ votes for the ballyhooed bipartisan infrastructure bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought up for a vote again yesterday. Together, the two bills would provide an almost $3 trillion investment in our future. And while lots of important priorities got cut from the BBB “framework,” what remained was indeed what Pelosi termed “transformative.” Universal pre-kindergarten, investments in child care and elder care, health care funding, a half-billion in climate change mitigation programs, an unexpectedly progressive tax plan, and more. I always thought that in the end, progressives would accept the “framework” of the BBB, rather than demand a vote on the bill, in order to proceed with a vote on infrastructure.

It may be that at one point in this long process, they would have. But ever since Senator Joe Manchin, D–Fossil Fuel Industry, announced that he wanted the $3.5 trillion legislation pared back to about $1 trillion, and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D–My Own Planet, decided she had problems with the bill’s tax provisions and, appallingly, its plan to let Medicare negotiate drug pricing with Big Pharma, progressives have been scrambling to figure out how to get the two Senate holdouts on board with something that would resemble the agenda President Joe Biden ran on.

And right up through Thursday, when House Democrats again delayed a vote on the infrastructure bill, they could not. The Big Two have been sociopathically stubborn, gaslighting progressives—and apparently, the president—rather than negotiating. Even though Biden announced on Thursday, before he left for a multi-stop trip to Europe, that an agreement on a BBB “framework” had been reached—which seemed to imply that Manchin and Sinema were on board—no such thing turned out to be true. Reporters followed the duo around the Capitol round the clock, and could never get either to say plainly that they supported the framework as Biden announced it.

Thus progressives had no choice but to reject a vote on the infrastructure bill until the Senate votes on the BBB legislation. All day long, cable news reporters went on about a “trust deficit,” as though it were a mysterious force of nature, or a problem between teenage girls. It’s real, and it’s valid, but it only works one way. Progressives, led by their caucus chair Pramila Jayapal, have negotiated, arduously and in good faith. They’ve accepted a bill that’s about half of the $3.5 trillion they wanted—which was itself a compromise from the $6 trillion bill first announced.

Meanwhile, Manchin and Sinema have flip-flopped on what they’ll support time and again. Even if they ultimately had said they’d support the bill as outlined—and ultimately, they wouldn’t even say that on Thursday—these two self-serving senators have proven capable of reneging on their word. Regretfully, I can fully imagine them saying they support the framework, and then voting down the bill when it ultimately came to the Senate floor. They’d find a “reason”—the legislation wasn’t exactly what they thought the framework meant, yadda yadda yadda. Can anyone doubt that? I can already imagine Sinema’s curtsy followed by a thumbs-down on the Senate floor.

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Source: Blame Manchin and Sinema for the Delay on the Infrastructure Vote

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