Today is Sept. 27, which was supposed to be the day Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., managed to force a vote on the floor on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was previously passed by the Senate. His goal was to separate the bipartisan bill from the broader reconciliation bill so that he and his allies could pass the smaller one and dilute or kill the second. The Dark Money Group No Labels Backing Your Effort has made that goal explicit.
Gottheimer won the concession of a vote from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, but, more importantly, he did not get the promise of a successful vote. So the Congressional Progressive Caucus organized its members into a bloc and promised to vote against infrastructure unless the larger bill accompanied it. Twenty-two House Democrats it was in the registry saying they would retain their votes; Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And 10 Democrats backed them. It took a long time for the media to figure it out, but they finally realized that, wait a minute! – these people are serious. Late last night, Pelosi sent a letter announcing that the vote would be withdrawn. Debate on the bill begins today, but voting has been rescheduled for Thursday.
In years past, progressives could not have made a threat credible enough for the vote to be withdrawn. So what is different this time? For one thing, primaries matter, and in 2020 progressives toppled a handful of corporate Democrats and won open primaries against right-wing pro-business Democrats.
But that still doesn’t fully explain it, because progressives are still generally stuck with a structural disadvantage: they actually want to approve things, while centrists are happy to approve of nothing. Progressives have little influence, as the choice is often between getting a little of something and getting nothing. That is exactly what happened with the Affordable Care Act. Progressives promised they would not support a health care bill without a strong public option, and in the end, they were told that here is the final bill: It will insure 20 to 25 million more people and expand Medicaid, but it has done. no public option. Are you a yes or a no? Faced with that election, a progressive member of Congress will vote yes 99 times out of 100.
What’s different this time around is that the corporate Democrats really want something. They worked really hard on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and it includes a bunch of corrupt giveaways that their financial backers really want.
Don’t take my word for it: Here’s Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, speaking with NBC News reporter Sahil Kapur, quoted on Twitter: “The shit written by those 12 rump senators , which are actually pro-fossil fuels, does practically nothing to reduce fossil fuel pollution from transportation. So I’m trying to fix that in reconciliation. They basically removed all of our weather supplies. They took my electric bus program, cut it, and then said oh, and a third of the money has to be spent on fossil fuel buses. I mean, they’re idiots … The industry could have written their bill. “
House transport chair @RepPeterDeFazio on the Senate infrastructure bill: “The garbage written by those 12 senators, who are actually pro-fossil fuels, does practically nothing to reduce fossil fuel pollution from transportation. So I’m trying to fix that in reconciliation. “
– Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 22, 2021
DeFazio on BIF: “They basically eliminated all of our weather provisions. They took my electric bus program, cut it, and then said oh, and a third of the money has to be spent on fossil fuel buses. I mean, they’re idiots … The industry could have written their bill. “
– Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 22, 2021
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., highlighted the industry’s influence on Instagram when asked if she would be willing to stop the bipartisan bill if it didn’t come with the other.
Rep. AOC is a NO to infrastructure without reconciliation.
“Nothing would give me more pleasure than curbing a billionaire, dark money, fossil fuel, ‘energy’ infrastructure bill drafted by Exxon lobbyists if they go after our climate and childcare priorities.”
Video via source: pic.twitter.com/ZR2nGP58BM
– Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 9, 2021
That is what makes this moment different. For progressives, the choice is not between getting something that is good and getting something that is good. The bipartisan bill is in many ways a step backward, actively bad legislation that would make the world a worse place if not combined with the social and climate policy piece. Spending more money on roads, bridges, and fossil fuel infrastructure while the world burns is not half a piece of cake. It is not even stale bread. It is moldy. Throw it in the compost.
For once, both centrists and progressives have an interest in getting something passed, which is why it’s so important to keep the two pieces linked together. Even Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, who has threatened to block reconciliation, has done nothing at home except bragging about her ability to finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill and talking about tackling climate change is our maxim. priority. Sinema now he is claiming that she will not support any increase in either the corporate tax rate or the personal tax rate for the wealthy in reconciliation. If you stand firm in your defense of Trump’s tax cuts, all of these maneuvers may end up in vain. Yet at the same time, you’ll find it difficult to explain why you blew up your priorities just to protect Trump’s tax cuts.