Another Monday has come and gone, and the notorious Build Back Better Act – originally billed as a “human infrastructure” plan, is no closer to becoming law than it was last week. Then, it was urgent; President Joe Biden needed this win before hobnobbing with the globalist elite. Now, it’s … well, still urgent to Biden though House progressives don’t seem to be in a rush. The smaller infrastructure spending bill that already cleared the Senate with more or less bipartisan support does actually stand a chance of passing the House now, but most likely not until later in the week. Build Back Better, however, seems doomed, even if the Democrats can’t – or simply won’t – see it.
Progressives v the President
Biden may feel he’s running out of time, and that’s because he is. Little else can be done while Congress argues over a pair of massive spending bills. So if these ultimately fail, then Biden will be left with a rather embarrassing legislative legacy – or, more accurately, a lack of legislative legacy.
If these bills aren’t passed before mid to late November, they will be put on hold once again for the gauntlet that is government funding and the debt limit. This must be figured out by December 3 in order to avoid a partial government “shutdown,” and there’s no telling how long it will take to agree on some form of funding after a couple of months of arguing over other ways to spend the taxpayers’ money.
While the president sweats the pressure, the progressives of the House feel no rush. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) is a deputy whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and he set the tone for the CPC, a group that includes nearly a quarter of the representatives in the House. Though he had previously parroted Biden’s cry for help a week earlier, the lawmaker said on Monday, November 1: “If this takes another ten days, why is that the worst thing? I mean, don’t we want to be careful and really get all the details right and then deliver this for the American people?”
Now the caucus leader, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), says she supports a vote on both bills – and for the one already approved by the Senate, that could mean as early as Tuesday, November 2. But there’s more motivation for some Democrats to drag their heels.
Progressives v Moderates
The only reason the more bipartisan infrastructure bill hasn’t been implemented is that House Democrats refused to clear it without the Senate also passing Build Back Better by reconciliation – a process held up primarily by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Initially, House Dems refused to pass the bipartisan bill until they got the progressive wish list that is the larger spending package. Jayapal is now going to “trust Biden” to get the reluctant holdouts to toe the line – and that may well mean passing a bill that commits around $1 trillion to Democrat dreams, oh, yeah, and some infrastructure. The larger “framework” for social spending, however, seems doomed. Even if it passed the Senate and all other arguments were set aside – be it things like free preschool or the still massive price tag – the immigration argument alone could tank the initiative in the House.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) can only afford to lose three votes, and there are at least three Latino Democrats who have allegedly claimed they’ll kill the bill should there be no amnesty for illegal aliens. On the other hand, many moderates have said they’ll end it should immigration “reform” factor in.
You do the math.
Jayapal may trust Biden to get a couple of Senate holdouts to vote “aye,” but if intraparty divisions in the House kill the bill, it will have all been for naught.
~ Read more from James Fite.