OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
House Speaker and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi has predicted a “time of intensity” in the next several weeks as Democrats attempt to pass their massive spending bills.
“September 30th is a date fraught with meaning. This week, we must pass a Continuing Resolution, Build Back Better Act and the BIF,” the letter to her Democrat colleagues said.
“On Thursday, the Build Back Better Act was sent to the Budget Committee for mark-up. As I write to you, the Budget Committee is marking up the bill. As negotiations continue with the Senate, changes will be handled under the Rules Committee led by Chair Jim McGovern.
“The next few days will be a time of intensity,” the Speaker said. “We sent a CR to the Senate and are awaiting their action to avoid a shutdown. We must pass the BIF to avoid the expiration of the surface transportation funding on September 30. And we must stay on schedule to pass the reconciliation bill so that we can Build Back Better.
“The Build Back Better Act is a jobs bill for the future: addressing the empowerment of women in the workplace and creating good-paying green jobs by tackling the climate crisis. The jobs initiatives relating to child care, home health care, paid family and medical leave, universal pre-K and more are transformative. The legislation also helps middle class families by making health care costs and prescription drug prices more affordable,” she said.
“The initiatives of the Build Back Better Act are ones in which President Biden takes a great pride, which House and Senate Democrats share. Build Back Better will cut taxes for the middle class, create more jobs, lower costs for working families and make sure the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share.
“The Caucus will hold a meeting on Monday at 5:30 p.m. E.T.. I urge the fullest participation of Members and hope that as many of us can be there in person as possible,” the Speaker said.
“Proudly, I have never seen as big a consensus as we have around the Build Back Better initiative. Again, I thank Chairs, Members, staff and all who have participated, doing so with the urgency that is required,” she said.
But the issue she, and the Democrats, face is that their own party is divided on the massive $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
Moderate Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have signaled that they will not support the bill as written.
Joe Biden met with Sen. Manchin in the Oval Office this month and the senator rebuffed Biden’s pressure campaign, Axios reported.
Defying a president from his own party — face-to-face — is the strongest indication yet Manchin is serious about cutting specific programs and limiting the price tag of any potential bill to $1.5 trillion. His insistence could blow up the deal for progressives and others.
Axios was told Biden explained to Manchin his opposition could imperil the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s already passed the Senate. Biden’s analysis did little to persuade Manchin to raise his top line.
Manchin held his position and appears willing to let the bipartisan bill hang in the balance, given his entrenched opposition to many of the specific proposals in the $3.5 trillion spending package, Axios was told.
While the two left the meeting having made little progress, and are still some $2 trillion apart, the conversation was friendly and they agreed to keep talking.
Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates would not get into specifics on the meeting but called Manchin an “important partner.”
“Sen. Manchin is an important partner,” he said. “We do not discuss the contents of private meetings.”
But New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatened to stop the infrastructure bill if she and her fellow progressives did not get what they want.
While speaking to followers during an Instagram live video, Ocasio-Cortez was asked if progressives would vote no on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package if it was not tied to the larger budget bill.
Ocasio-Corte said: “Yes.”
“Nothing would give me more pleasure than to tank a billionaire, dark money, fossil fuel, Exxon lobbyist drafted energy infrastructure bill if they come after our child care and climate priorities,” she said.
It was similar to a threat she made in August.
She appeared on the CNN show “State of the Union” with host Jake Tapper on August 1, where the 30-year-old representative essentially threatened moderate Senate Democrats on the infrastructure deal, saying that if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill sans Republican support that the House “will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.”
“So, we really need to see that language and see what’s put in there … when it reaches the House,” she said. “Bipartisan doesn’t always mean that it’s in the interests of the public good, frankly. Sometimes, there’s a lot of corporate lobbyist giveaways in some of these bills.”
She claimed that “a very large amount of the Progressive Caucus” in the House would not vote for the bipartisan infrastructure package if the more massive reconciliation bill did not pass.
“The total amount is about 90. I am not the whip of the Progressive Caucus,” she said. “But what I can tell you is that it’s certainly more than three. And it is in the double digits, absolutely.”
“Enough to prevent it from passing?” Tapper said.
“More than enough,” Ocasio-Cortez said.