2. The budget bill: Liberals in the House
— like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington
— don’t want to vote for the infrastructure bill unless and until they can ensure passage of the much-larger budget bill
, which effectively crams all of Biden’s first-term priorities on everything from climate to job to immigration and back into a single measure
. The problem
? Democrats in the Senate don’t have the
50 votes they need to pass anything close to a
$ 3.5 pacchetto da trilioni. Senso. Kyrsten Cinema (of Arizona
) and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have made clear they will not vote for a measure with that high a price tag
, con Manchin suggesting less than half that total might be workable
. The other problem
? Liberals including Bernie Sanders of Vermont want the package to be even bigger
, seeing this as their best chance in a very long time to put a truly progressive vision in place
Viewed broadly, what is playing out in Congress — and especially among Democrats — right now is a battle for what role Democrats believe the government should play in society going forward.
There’s no question that if Biden gets both his infrastructure bill and anything close to the
$ 3.5 trillion budget bill
, it will amount to a massive reinvestment in government and the role it should play in American lives
. After decades in which the Democratic Party
— led by Bill Clinton’s famous proclamation that the
“era of big government is over
” — inched ever closer to the smaller-government-is-better-government mantra of the GOP
, Biden’s proposals mark a clear break with that view
Touting the infrastructure plan this spring
, Biden cast it in historic terms
avere un “once-in-a-generation investment in America
, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the Interstate Highway System and the Space Race decades ago.
Which is a bold vision for government re-involvement in nearly every aspect of American life. But it is also a massive gamble by Biden — staking essentially the entirety of his agenda on two pieces of massive legislation that, at least currently, face very uncertain futures in the House and Senate.
What’s more remarkable is that there doesn’t appear to be a “plan B” for Biden and Democrats. The size of these two bills — in terms of cost and scope — as well as the time and attention they have drawn from the administration and Democrats in Congress means that there isn’t going to be a second bite at this apple if the first one doesn’t work. Questo è. A one-shot deal.
Looming over all of these machinations are the
2022 elezioni di medio termine, quale, if history and a handful of recent polling data is any guide
, look likely to cost down-ballot Democrats dearly
. The unstated but ever-present concern for congressional Democrats as well as the Biden White House is that if the party fails to pass these major agenda items in the coming week
(S), they will lose the chance to do so before the
2022 midterms. And if as expected
, Republicans take back control of at least one chamber of Congress
(if not both
), the chances of any major legislation like this passing in
2023 o 2024 is essentially nil
All of which means that unless Democrats can all get on the same page over the next week, Biden’s expansive agenda will be doomed. And Democrats’ chances of transformational change in how government impacts every day Americans lives will disappear — maybe forever.