Nine Democrats shut down Pelosi's voting agenda

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Last night was supposed to be “the big night” for Joe Biden’s spending agenda in the House of Representatives. Democratic leadership was ready to “muscle through” the first procedural vote on Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending bill over the objections of every Republican and even some members of their own party. Unfortunately for them, it appears that they may need to summon the brute squad. The same nine moderate Democrats who penned an op-ed about passing the infrastructure bill first this week did not develop any cracks in their armor. After reportedly spending hours on negotiations, promises, cajoling and threats until well after midnight, the House leadership finally threw in the towel and decided to try again today. No votes were taken on the massive spending bill. (Associated Press)

Confronting moderates, House Democratic leaders tried to muscle President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar budget blueprint over a key hurdle, working overnight to ease an intraparty showdown that risks upending their domestic infrastructure agenda.

Tensions flared and spilled into early Tuesday as a band of moderate lawmakers threatened to withhold their votes for the $3.5 trillion plan. They were demanding the House first approve a $1 trillion package of road, power grid, broadband and other infrastructure projects that’s already passed the Senate.

Despite hours of negotiations at the Capitol, the House chamber came to a standstill and plans were thrown into flux late Monday, as leaders and lawmakers huddled privately to broker an agreement. Shortly after midnight, leaders announced no further votes would be taken until Tuesday’s session.

Welcome to the Democratic Party that can’t take yes for an answer. It seemed pretty clear from that op-ed yesterday that the Gang of Nine centrist Democrats weren’t going to budge on this. And lashing the reconciliation bill to the infrastructure bill would assure that not a single Republican voted for either. Pelosi’s margin of error on any vote is currently sitting at three or four people, so the Fellowship of the Moderates knows they are holding all of the cards.

Speaking of cracks in someone’s armor, a few of Pelosi’s comments that leaked out of the closed-door meeting make it sound as if she’s seeing a very gloomy future. As part of her pleas to get a vote on the reconciliation bill, she reportedly said, “We cannot squander this majority and this Democratic White House.” Maybe it’s just me, but you start using the word “squander,” you sound like you’re talking about something that won’t be around for very long. Without saying the words out loud, the Speaker seems to be implying that her time holding the gavel may be over after the midterms. And Joe Biden might find himself in lame-duck territory after only two years, potentially being the second single-term president in a row.

Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy, a leader in the Gang of Nine, wrote a separate op-ed in the Orlando Sentinal this week. She described herself as being “bewildered” by her party’s leadership and the “misguided strategy to make passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure bill contingent upon passage of the contentious, yet-to-be-written, partisan reconciliation bill.”

Those don’t sound like the words of someone who is ready to be “muscled” into anything by some vague threats issued by her party’s committee chairs or the Speaker. If she or her eight colleagues have any pet projects that they wanted to see included in the legislation, those items would have already been put on the table. The crazy part about all of this is that none of the nine have gone full-Manchin and said that the reconciliation bill is out of the question. They’re all willing to negotiate and make some of the more disturbing parts more palatable. They just want to get the infrastructure bill out of the way first. Why is the House Progressive Caucus so determined to flip an easy chip shot into the loss column?

The Bunnysled of Democratic Doom resumes today. Barring someone coming up with some serious blackmail material, we should probably expect the same lesson about half a loaf being better than none to continue to be lost on the far left-wing of the Democratic Party. And if we’re only to be given a choice between both of these bills or none, rest assured that I’ll be cheering for the “none” team.