Gut check: Pelosi schedules Rules Committee hearing tomorrow on reconciliation package that, er, still doesn't exist

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

What a ridiculous process.

If you read this you know that progressives and centrists were still far apart on a reconciliation package as of this morning. There’s nothing new about that but they’re almost out of runway if they want to get something passed before Virginia goes to vote next Tuesday. Further complicating matters, it’s not clear that even if a deal is reached before the end of the day that it’ll be enough to satisfy some House progressives, who insist they want more than just an informal “framework.” At a minimum they want to see legislative text for key provisions in the forthcoming reconciliation bill before they agree to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s currently stuck in the House.

What do you do if you’re Pelosi and you need to show the lefties in your caucus some legislative language for a bill whose provisions haven’t even been settled on yet?

Easy. You tell your committees to start drafting language for the parts that *have* been agreed to and cross your fingers that that’s enough to make the progs happy and willing to pass the bipartisan bill that may or may not save Terry McAuliffe.

In 2010, Pelosi told us we had to pass the ObamaCare bill to see what’s in it. Now she’s basically telling House progs they have to pass the bipartisan bill to ultimately see what’s in reconciliation. Think they’ll go for it?

They’re going to spend $1.5 trillion, possibly more, on a bill whose provisions are being hastily slapped together to meet an artificial deadline created by an impending election. And they’re doing it for no better reason than to satisfy the egos of House progressives who continue to delude themselves into believing they have meaningful leverage over the infrastructure process when they don’t. Reconciliation exists at the sufferance of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, and Manchin has no real electoral incentive to see it pass. If not for the progressive delusion, Democrats could have passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill ages ago and given McAuliffe something positive to talk about in the home stretch of his race.

Instead they’re going to dash off some fantastically expensive bad law in furtherance of bad politics.

Incredibly, despite the two sides still not having reached a deal, the word from the House is that Dems are hoping to vote on the bipartisan bill … tomorrow:

For that to happen, either House lefties need to cave on their demand for legislative language on reconciliation or someone needs to produce some legislative language for them despite the fact that there’s no agreement yet. Evidently Pelosi’s concluded that the progs aren’t bluffing or else she wouldn’t be asking committee chairs to begin drafting language immediately. And she’s probably correct in that conclusion. Lefties were pissed when she walked out of a meeting with Pramila Jayapal yesterday declaring that an informal framework on reconciliation should suffice for passing the bipartisan bill:

She’s gambling now that partial legislative language plus the pressure of not wanting to tank the party’s chances in Virginia will persuade Jayapal and the other holdouts to pass the bipartisan bill in the next few days. But she might lose that gamble:

There won’t be “full” legislative text anytime soon and they know it. Are lefties really going to shank McAuliffe by not passing the roads-and-bridges bill before Tuesday?

For a sense of the chaos that’s happening behind the scenes of these negotiations, look no further than the status of the billionaire tax proposed by Ron Wyden. Isn’t that idea already dead? Definitely!

Well, probably:

Or maybe not?

If the billionaire tax really is dead, how will Dems fund the programs in the bill? No one seems to know that either:

“It’s just so tenuous. Everything is so tenuous,” said Joe Manchin, the main figure responsible for that tenuousness, to reporters last night. “Everything is under negotiation. Everybody’s talking constructively. Everybody’s trying to work and find that pathway forward.” Normally we’d expect the House to fashion a proposal, then the Senate to counteroffer, then a conference committee to hammer out a compromise. Instead Dems are having to skip those steps and go right to co-writing the bill together from scratch and on the fly in the name of producing something that satisfies House lefties as a hard deadline of Tuesday, Election Day in Virginia, bears down on them. This is no way to run a railroad.

I’m sure it’ll work out, though. Right, AOC?