At a closed-door lunch Tuesday, Sinima, an Arizona Democrat, informed her caucus that she would seek to strike a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an infrastructure package and, according to three sources, have been determined to make that effort. For that he had Biden’s blessing. rooms.
But after Sinema left the meeting, one Democrat after another took note of the strategy and expressed deep dismay at what he saw as a futile attempt to find consensus with Senate Republicans – concerned that any bipartisanship The deal is unlikely to win the support of many. The caucus reflects the growing tension between the progressive and liberal wings of the party.
“There’s no way Munchkin and the cinema are going to cut the deal that represents the caucus’s view,” said one Democratic senator. “It’s just not going to happen.”
“Groups of four or five people don’t get to carry 50 Democratic votes on their backs,” said another Democratic senator.
Democratic desperation is centered on this fear: They may miss out on their best opportunity to pass Biden’s agenda, with their party vying for both houses of Congress and their majority at stake in next year’s midterm. And with the prospects of passing the law only bound to get more bleak as the next election draws to a close, Democrats say the effort is now to shun Republicans and get an infrastructure bill along straight party lines. is the moment.
But he needs the support of Manchin and Cinema, who spent Tuesday evening in the basement of the Capitol trying to strike a deal with a handful of GOP senators — Biden’s Republican Sen. Shelley Moore with Capito ending talks with West Virginia. within a few hours. After weeks of talks they struck a deadlock.
“I’m prepared to move from bipartisanship to key priorities for the Biden administration for some time,” said Sen. Mazi Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat.
Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said Democrats have a bad history of wasting precious time, which stems from the Obama years.
“We have a lousy record to live up to,” Whitehouse said.
Democrats want complete unity on many fronts
But Democrats face a dilemma: They need the support of all 50 members of their caucus to successfully advance their economic agenda through a filibuster-proof budget process—and they don’t have the support of Munchkin and Cinema, Some among others, who want to find a deal with Republicans instead.
Top Democrats on Tuesday declined to say whether they believed Munchkin and Cinema could find a bipartisan deal that would win over their caucus.
“There’s not much time left in this session,” Senate Budget Speaker Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats and one of the senators who pushed back at the Democratic luncheon, said Tuesday. “I’ve seen no sign that Republicans are ready to support the kind of serious legislation this country needs.”
Indeed, after skipping lunch, even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would not say whether he believed the cinema-staging effort could yield a bipartisan deal to the satisfaction of his caucus.
Instead, he indicated that he would allow those bipartisan talks to continue, while pursuing a stand-alone strategy to move an infrastructure bill along straight party lines. This will allow negotiations to continue this month – to see if a bipartisan deal can be struck – before moving forward next month by passing a bill through the budget reconciliation process, a $1.9 trillion deal by Democrats for COVID-19. strategy to be used. relief legislation earlier this year without GOP support.
But there are strict limits on what provisions such a package can include—as they must be related to the budget in order to meet the Senate’s strict rules—plus it will only pass if the Democratic caucus is in place. All 50 members will agree.
When asked about the bipartisan talks, Schumer said, “We are pursuing a two-way proposal.” “On the one hand, there are bipartisan talks going on, and they continue. … We all know, as a caucus, we won’t be able to do everything the country needs in a completely bipartisan, bipartisan way. . .. .and so at the same time, we are looking for reconciliation.”
Schumer’s No. 2 made it clear that the success of the rest of Biden’s agenda rests on successfully navigating the reconciliation process.
“I hope so,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said when asked if the agenda comes down to the reconciliation process.
Rest of the agenda in danger
Schumer has set the stage for votes on hot-button issues this month, lacking the support of the 10 Republicans needed to crack a filibuster—namely a House-pass bill stemming from election legislation and gun violence. Furthermore, Schumer does not have support within his caucus to change the filibuster rules and reduce the 60-vote requirement to advance the legislation to 51 votes.
And skepticism is wider than just Munchkin and cinema.
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat who could face a tough re-election next November, has yet to accede to calls to lower Filibuster’s 60-vote limit, although she is reluctant to use the tactic. Supports some changes in method. Asked if she would support lowering the 60-vote limit, Hassan would not answer directly, but said “it is important for us to do as much as we can” in a bipartisan manner.
“Not now,” said Sen. John Tester, a Montana Democrat who is also involved in bipartisan infrastructure talks, when asked if he leaves Filibuster behind. “I think Filibuster serves a purpose. On the other hand, some people are just using it to block things. And that’s not good.”
Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat who is up for re-election next year, indicated that he has not decided whether he supports a lowering of the 60-vote requirement or if his position is against that of Sinima. Consistent with the opposition to changing the rules.
While Kelly said Tuesday that he “generally believes in change,” the freshman Democrat said: “I will evaluate any changes to our rules, whatever they are, in the best interest and best interest of Arizona.” on the basis of our country.”
For many Democrats – particularly progressives in the House – allowing the choice of moderates in the Senate to determine their party’s ambitions continues to enrage them.
Washington Representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Progressive Caucus in the House, said it was time for Biden to step up.
“The reason we’re carrying out the American rescue plan is because the president is hooked. The longer we let things sit around, the more time we give to the opposition, the more time we give to those who want to delay because they don’t want to get anything done,” Jaipal said.
Others were equally blunt in directing their anger at the Democratic-led Senate.
“I’m very disappointed,” Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat from New Jersey, told CNN on Tuesday. “The Senate is not doing its job.”
CNN’s Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.