How Democrats Bungled Their Big Win on Infrastructure

This article is part of the The DC Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up HereSubscribe to receive stories like these delivered straight to your inbox each weekday

When President Joe Biden heard this, he took the sunglasses off his face. Ask a question shouted to him yesterday from NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell on the South Lawn of the White House. Was the President—whose agenda had seemed weighed down, if not completely lifeless, just a few days ago—expecting his weekend You winA bipartisan bill on infrastructure to provide momentum for a companion piece in social spending
[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

It was obvious that the President enjoyed this question. “I am always optimistic,” Biden said in a cheerful tone “It’s going to be a tough fight. It ain’t over yet, as the expression goes, but I feel good.”

Then O’Donnell asked if Biden had learned any lessons from getting the bipartisan infrastructure Bill passed. Biden responded glibly with a flash of a smile: “None I didn’t already know.”

That is precisely why Democrats should be worried about the midterm election, which will take place in less than a full year.

The Democrats have held power since January with the narrowest of majority, and lots of animosity. Biden may be the only person in Washington that can break down barriers and bring about unity. However, he prefers to work with former Capitol colleagues. The result has been plenty of pleasant conversations with various coalitions and plenty of lagging— so much that it has threatened the President’s legacy-defining infrastructure agenda.

Uncle Joe could be Sheriff Joe if Democrats are to have a shot in 2022. Biden’s been ringside as other Presidents have made such pivots. He watched Jimmy Carter realize he couldn’t be his own chief of staff, watched Bill Clinton salvage his dismal start in short but dramatic order and had the understudy role as Barack Obama decided his search for unity on healthcare was never going to produce results. Reinvention is the game in Washington and it’s up to Biden to decide if he wants to play it. If he doesn’t, he might well start settling into his ocean-adjacent home on the Delaware coast.

A popular package, which would have authorized $550 billion for new spending by the Senate, was approved by the Senate in August. SpendingThe spending proposal will be used to fund infrastructure projects such as tunnels, runways, and bridges. This spending plan was so acceptable that it won the support of 19 Republican Senators from a heavily partisan chamber, including Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell. But the bill sat in the House for months, hostage to Democrats’ negotiations over the Build Back Better Act, the second part of Biden’s infrastructure agenda that includes spending on social safety net programs like childcare, paid family leave and changes to drug pricing.

Republicans won’t vote for Build Back Better, forcing Democrats to use a bit of legislative gymnastics in the Senate to bypass the typical threshold of 60 votes to shut down a filibuster. The Hill’s knowledge reconciliationWith all 50 Democrats unites and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie, they could skate past. There are two! bracinglyIndependent Democrats In particularThe views of Senators Joe Manchin (and Kyrsten Silena) were very different about the bill’s scope and size.

Democrats on the House side of Capitol Hill didn’t want to pick up the bipartisan bill until they knew they could get Act II, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team resolved that it was both or none. There was much bickering at the Senate about the matter. partisan-but-popular Build Back Better Act has held up the centerpiece of Biden’s domestic agenda, slowly chipping away at voters’ faith that his Administration is able to get anything done.

To take the Democrats of D.C. by storm, they needed a terrible election night Nov. 2, 2009. NotificationThis is how miserable the country feels about the state of the economy. Virginia voters elected Glenn Youngkin as the commonwealth’s next Governor and in reliably blue New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy was very close to losing his reelection campaign. It was a rout in state legislatures, too, as voters said they’d had enough of the Democrats, who have unified control and don’t have a lot to show for it.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee in Virginia’s race, had been warning Democrats the clock was ticking, but only when he lost his bid did they realize the former DNC Chairman might know a thing about politics. In the House, inaction was no longer a tenable answer, but the distrust between the Dems’ factions runs deep. To win an easy victory, centrists demanded a swift vote on the bipartisan bill that had been passed by the Senate. However, progressives did not want to wait for the bill and add it to the social spending bill. The centrists were then they couldn’t vote on that plan until the Congressional Budget Office completed its RevisionThe task of completing the bill’s 2,000 pages could be time-consuming. Wochen

Eventually, with poll numbers for the Democratic Party in freefall, the two factions reached an agreement: the centrists would back the coming $1.75 trillion social spending package If—and it’s a big if—the Congressional Budget Office analysis came back positively. Ultimately, the bipartisan bill passed, but six progressives still voted against it because they weren’t ready to release the hostage.

So what was supposed to be a major victory for Biden is now a disaster, revealing all of the problems within the Democratic Party. It was passed at midnight on Friday. This is not the best time to control the news cycle and allow for cable members to enjoy victory laps. The delays were self-created and it was completed after a few weeks. And it tested—if not revealed—the limits of Biden’s campaign pitch of being a skilled dealmaker.

The infrastructure implosion must be addressed, not just the repair of broken tunnels or bridges. Get up!Democrats These were in place already bracingFor those who are tough 2022This is a. The Republicans control the way House districts across the country are redrawn this year, and they have the power to gerrymander some seats. This party is often hit hard by the Americans who win all 435 House seats. Already, the Senate map looks bleak with no margin for error and very few picking-up opportunities. Looking like feuding feudal lords and ladies isn’t going to help their chances.

Then there’s the Biden Factor. The Biden Factor is the only thing worse than Donald Trump or Gerald Ford since World War II. StandingAt this point of their presidencies, with voters. Biden’s polls are at the lowest point of his tenure and his political juice isn’t much better. Voters in Virginia told the exit pollsters that they cast their ballots against McAuliffe to send a signal to Biden that they’ve had it, especially the suburban women who made Democratic gains in 2018 and 2020 possible. It turned out that 51% of Virginians voted against McAuliffe. TelledExit pollsters found that McAuliffe was too liberal in the Democratic Party, according to 13% of those who voted for him.

This finding can help explain a Pew Research Center study on American politics, which was released today. Among Democrats, only 12% fall into a bucket defined by Pew as the Progressive Left, and it’s the only group that is majority white. Compare that to the 28% of Democratic Mainstays who are older members and loyalists and the 23% who should considered Establishment Liberals. They like liberal ideas, but they don’t necessarily want wholesale change. Who are the remaining 16%? The so-called Outsider Left, the very liberal young voters who don’t much like the political system, including the Democratic Party.

In other words, chasing a progressive agenda is appealing to a very loud part of the Democratic Party, but it’s not a plurality. The larger segments of the Democratic Party want to get some points and stop calling for systemic changes. It’s how Biden cleared the field in 2020 and how he did what is almost impossible to do in American politics: the defeat of an incumbent President.

If Biden gets all this, he’s not letting on. He has repeatedly said that he didn’t run for office to have good poll numbers. But if those numbers don’t reverse course, there are going to be a whole lot fewer Democrats for him to invite for nice long conversations over ice cream on the patio outside to the Oval Office—or wherever Biden is hanging his hat come 2025.

Washington is the place to be. Register for our daily D.C. Brief newsletter.


Related Articles

Back to top button