For more than a decade, Congressional Democrats have been a particularly unified and functional group.
They responded forcefully to both the financial crisis that began in 2007 and the Covid-19 pandemic. They passed Barack Obama’s signature health care law, succeeding on an issue that has plagued Washington for decades. And they have remained almost completely united against Donald Trump’s legislative agenda and attacks on democracy.
But the era of productive democratic unity is now in doubt, as is President Biden’s national agenda.
This morning I’ll be explaining last night’s developments on Capitol Hill and looking at where things can go from here.
Shortly before 11 p.m., Steny Hoyer of Maryland – the second Democrat in the House – announced that “no further votes are expected tonight”, acknowledging that the party did not have the votes to pass a bill on infrastructure of $ 1 trillion.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had insisted throughout the day for the vote to take place. It was one of the few times in nearly two decades as leader of the House Democrats that she didn’t seem to be in control of her caucus, reminiscent of the chaos that has instead tended to surround House Republicans this century. .
“It’s a serious setback,” Carl Hulse, the Times’ Washington correspondent, told me, “but I don’t think that’s the end of the effort.”
Perhaps the most surprising part of last night’s developments is that many analysts believe Congressional Democrats have made progress towards a deal in the past 24 hours – even though they’re not there yet, and that talks could still fail.
The Senate has already passed the infrastructure bill and Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor. But House progressives refused to vote for it without assurances that moderate Democrats also support the other major piece of Biden’s agenda – a bigger bill (sometimes referred to as a ‘safety net’ bill) that would expand access to health care and education, tackle climate change and reduce poverty, among other measures.
Progressives fear that if they pass the infrastructure bill, the moderates will drop the safety net bill, which is a higher priority for many Democrats.
This is precisely the kind of disagreement Democrats have managed to overcome in recent years. During the debate over Obama’s health law, for example, moderates worried about his size and ambition, while progressives were deeply disappointed with what was missing (including an option for anyone to ‘buy from Medicare). Yet nearly all Democrats in Congress ultimately voted for the bill, seeing it far better than failure.
This time, moderates and progressives have a harder time coming to an agreement. The left, unhappy with the compromises it has to make, decided to use harsher negotiating tactics than in the past – hence the lack of a vote on infrastructure last night. And moderates, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, have been publicly vague about what they are prepared to support in the safety net bill.
Encouragingly for Democrats, Manchin’s position became clearer yesterday, potentially allowing the party to reach agreement on the two major bills. It is not excluded that an agreement can be reached quickly and that the House can vote on the infrastructure bill today or next week.
Manchin said yesterday he was in favor of a backstop bill that would cost around $ 1.5 trillion, rather than the $ 3.5 trillion many other Democrats, including Biden, prefer. He also listed several policies he could support in the bill, including increasing taxes on the rich; a drop in drug prices; and expanding the tax credits for preschool, home health care, clean energy and children.
These are many of the same priorities as the progressives, even though Manchin’s proposed cost means the party will have to make tough choices about what to exclude from the bill. But the terms of the negotiations now seem clearer than they have been.
Manchin himself suggested it. “We need a little more time” he said yesterday, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram. “We’re going to come to an agreement.
Several political analysts echoed this confidence:
Matt glassman from Georgetown: “Oddly enough, now that the progressives have flexed, I think the prospects for a deal have increased a bit. “
Russel berman, The Atlantic: “These setbacks are neither final nor fatal, and time is still on their side. The deadlines Democrats missed this week were largely artificial, and House leaders said a vote on the infrastructure bill could still take place as early as Friday. “
Karen tumulty, Washington Post: “My theory: we are heading for a deal. … What everyone is expecting at this point is Biden’s announcement of a deal and a call from the president for Democrats to rally around it.
Democrats have huge incentives to come to an agreement. If they fail, Biden’s national platform is largely sunk and the party will have lost a chance to pass major legislation while controlling the White House, Senate, and House – a combination that doesn’t come up often. Democrats will also face next year’s midterm voters who appear divided, if not incompetent.
All of this suggests that they will find a way to a deal. But it is far from certain. Tensions within the party are more serious than they have been for years.
THE LAST NEWS
A non-royal wedding: Princess Mako of Japan is getting married. It is not a fairy tale.
Tips from Wirecutter: Charge all your devices in one place.
Modern love: Four years after their marriage, her husband matched her on OkCupid.
Lives lived: Carlisle Floyd composed operas that explored Southern passions and prejudices, drawing inspiration from the Great Depression and the aftermath of the Civil War. He died at the age of 95.
ARTS AND IDEAS
“Maybe I’ll be remembered as the Grumpy Bond”
After 15 years of playing James Bond – longer than any other actor – Daniel Craig will make his final appearance as 007 in the franchise’s latest entry, “No Time to Die”. (Read AO Scott’s review). Craig spoke to The Times about his farewell. Some highlights:
Craig never thought he would land the role: “I was just in the mix – someone to sideline,” he said, adding that at best he thought he would get a unique villain role: “’There you go, have a villain.’ “
You won’t have to wait long to see it again: Craig has previously filmed a sequel to the popular 2019 thriller “Knives Out”, reprising his role as a gentleman sleuth. Next year he will also star in a new Broadway production of “Macbeth”, alongside Ruth Negga as Lady Macbeth.
Who could be the next Bond? He has no idea. “Whoever does, good luck to them. I hope they have as good a time as I have, ”he said. Frequently mentioned possibilities include Idris Elba, Lashana Lynch and Tom Hardy.
By becoming a meme: There are a clip of Craig on “Saturday Night Live”, where he relishly introduces singer The Weeknd, which many people love to post on weekends. “They do? It’s amazing. I don’t know what it is, but thanks. It’s adorable. Guess I should have social media to find out what it was about. – Sanam Yar, a morning writer