Senate Democrats find themselves in a precarious position as President Joe Biden’s hard-line political tactics threaten a bipartisan infrastructure proposal.
Despite touting the tentative deal earlier this week, the president is reportedly refusing to budge on several progressive sticking points — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also appears to be presenting a significant obstacle to a bipartisan bill.
“Unless both bills pass in the Senate”
After the GOP has successfully stopped much of the Biden administration’s legislative agenda, negotiations between the two parties fostered hope of a robust deal regarding infrastructure spending.
Biden has indicated, however, that he will not support a bill unless it is paired with a proposal to fund key items from his party’s wish list.
Since Democrats lack the political power on Capitol Hill to force through their agenda, bipartisan compromise is vital for any progress. For her part, however, Pelosi seems to be on the same page as the president.
“There ain’t going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have a reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate,” she recently asserted. “House and Senate Democrats are united in that we — in the House — are not bringing [it] to the floor unless both bills pass in the Senate.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shared his party’s frustration with the apparent stalemate, adding: “If [Biden] is going to tie them together, he can forget it. I’m not doing that. That’s extortion. I’m not going to do that. The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”
Biden endangers his own legacy
The continued insistence that a controversial reconciliation bill must be packaged along with the bipartisan proposal appears to be the latest failure by Democrats to enact Biden’s agenda.
According to one GOP Senate aide, Biden’s “comments did real damage” to his own cause, noting that it “is astonishing that he could endorse this bipartisan framework in one breath and then announce he will hold it hostage in the next.”
Although Democrats continue to act as if they hold all the cards in Congress, all indicators suggest that time is not on their side.
Not only do historical trends point toward Republican gains in next year’s midterm elections, but Democrats also risk provoking the wrath of their own constituents without any successful legislation under their belts.
If Democrats lose power next year, it will effectively cost Biden the final two years of his term, leaving his administration at the mercy of an aggrieved GOP majority.