Pelosi finds new, creative ways to pretend the infrastructure bill is almost ready to pass

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Congress managed to pass the continuing resolution needed to avert (or at least postpone) a shutdown last night and someone apparently woke Joe Biden up long enough to scrawl his signature on it. Since it didn’t contain a provision to lift the debt limit, that’s only going to stabilize the situation for a few weeks at most, but I suppose you take your wins where you can find them these days. That wasn’t the only matter that was supposed to be put to a vote during Thursday’s marathon session, however. After several delays, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been promising all day long that the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was also going to be coming up for passage. By the time I finished dinner yesterday I’d already lost count of the number of cable news clips that showed Pelosi emerging from meetings with one group or another, saying that “progress” was being made and the finish line was in sight. As it turns out, she must have been using binoculars to see that finish line because midnight came and went before the Speaker finally pulled the plug and admitted that it wasn’t going to happen. (NY Post)

Facing an embarrassing defeat at the hands of progressives in her party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was forced to cancel a vote on a Senate-passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday — failing to garner the support needed for passage after far-left Democrats vowed to block the measure until there is movement on a sweeping $3.5 trillion social spending bill.

The feud threatens two of President Biden’s top legislative priorities and has so far confounded party leaders, senior congressional staffers, and White House aides who have sought a solution.

Pelosi had insisted all week that the infrastructure legislation would come up for a vote Thursday. She had initially promised moderate members of her conference who supported that measure that it would be voted on by Sept. 27, but allowed the deadline to slide as she sought to placate progressives who wanted to vote on the larger bill first.

Shortly after midnight, Jen Psaki was rolled out to the podium to provide some cover for the embarrassing failure, saying the Democrats were “closer to an agreement than ever.” She promised that everyone would be up first thing this morning to continue the work.

It’s still entirely possible that someone will cave today and they will put forward something that can pass, but it’s very difficult to see where the break in the dam will show up. Thus far, the only thing that the House Democrats seem to have agreed on universally is that they all needed to look like they were being agreeable. All of the key players were cornered by CNN at various points during the day and they were all smiling and saying that “conversations” were taking place and “progress” was being made.

That all sounds great until you stop and listen to what each of the factions was actually saying. During an interview with Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal yesterday afternoon, she was asked about the reconciliation bill and how far down she would be willing to come to move it forward so her caucus could vote for the infrastructure bill. It was an obvious reference to Joe Manchin’s recently revealed memo saying he was looking to trim it down to $1.5 trillion. Her response was to ask what Manchin was “willing to give up” to bring the price tag down. She went on to list a number of progressive spending priorities that were clearly not going to be on the table for removal.

But Manchin isn’t budging either. And the House Progressive Caucus didn’t cough up a single person on camera willing to say that there was a compromise number in the works, nor did they suggest that they were ready to go along with the infrastructure package without getting what they want for the reconciliation bill. If you were to split-screen Jayapal, Manchin, and Pelosi, you’d be tempted to think you were looking at a scene from the Tower of Babel. These people are all claiming to be “making progress” toward an agreement on the infrastructure bill while saying completely contradictory things.

As I already mentioned, weird things happen in Congress when the witching hour approaches so there might still be some sort of deal possible before they adjourn. But someone is going to have to take a complete loss because this isn’t a situation where a compromise is going to solve the underlying issue. They can’t simply lop off some money from the infrastructure bill or fluff it up with a bit more. What the Progressive Caucus wants is the reconciliation bill passed in the Senate and sent on to them. That’s an either-or proposition. It can’t be “partially” sent over. So the only way Pelosi gets the infrastructure bill through at this point is for Jayapal and her progressive pals to completely cave on their primary demand. Do you see that happening? Because I certainly don’t. They may prove me wrong before lunch for all I know, but it would be shocking to see it happen at this point.