Political observers predicted three options late Thursday as it remained unclear whether Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would still hold a vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, or BIF, which has stirred a Capitol Hill fight between a small band of corporate Democrats in Congress and the rest of the party anchored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
As of this writing, there was no final word other than promises earlier in the day by Pelosi that a vote would come—even though fresh public comments from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) made it clear that a chasm remains between his opposition and that of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and House Democrats on the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act that must ultimately be passed via the bicameral reconciliation process.
According to Politico, a vote is possible, but it remains unclear where the votes would come from to see it pass. Citing sources, the outlet reported:
During a private leadership meeting Thursday morning, several members of Pelosi's team expressed reservations about bringing the bill to the floor given the lack of support within the caucus. But later, during a private meeting with moderate Democrats, Pelosi reiterated her intention to hold the vote later in the day, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.
How it could work: Multiple Democrats said one way it could work would be to hold the vote open until Pelosi can corral enough members for passage, whether that be from the progressive wing of the caucus or from Republicans who support the infrastructure bill. One member described it as a "staredown" strategy. Bring in the troops: Pelosi has also called in reinforcements from labor groups, who are sending letters to members of Congress urging them to support the bill.
The three most likely outcomes for a Thursday night vote include: 1) Pelosi pulls the scheduled vote from the floor because she knows she doesn't have the votes; 2) the vote is held and members of the CPC and other Democrats vote it down as they have promised to do; or 3) a vote is held and enough renegade Republicans join with some number of Democrats to sabotage the progressive efforts to block the bill before an agreement on reconciliation is reached.
Those likely scenarios were laid out, among others, by Ezra Levin, co-founder of the progressive advocacy group Indivisible, during an appearance on MSNBC's "The Beat" just after 6:00 pm ET where he told host Ari Melber that CPC members were right to be holding the line against Manchin and Sinema, increasingly referred to as "Manchema" by detractors in recent days. As he tweeted just ahead of his appearance:
If we pass BIF before reconciliation, we're forfeiting our leverage and allowing Sinema/Manchin to write the reconc… https://t.co/kCS9707sPM— Ezra Levin (@Ezra Levin) 1633026013.0
In a political memo on Thursday, the advocacy group Accountable.US issued a warning—with a finger pointed directly at Manchin, Sinema, and a small group of Wall Street-back Democrats in the House—that big money was again sabotaging the democratic process in Washington, D.C. and at the worst possible moment. According to the memo:
It's not often stars align in favor of everyday working families, and it may not happen again for years. It makes no sense to squander this opportunity to level the playing field for everyday Americans after years of Washington keeping their thumb on the scale for millionaires and billion dollar corporations — especially wasteful tax breaks for the rich that never manage to trickle-down to anyone else.
And yet, there are some Democrats that are choosing to adopt the 'concerns' of the corporate special interests that have managed to do well even during a pandemic and effectively want to keep the system rigged in their favor. It's a red flag that money from greedy industries have corrupted the reconciliation process.
According to the analysis based on campaign finance data, "in August 2021 alone—in the heat of Congressional negotiations on the Build Back Better agenda—the moderate Democrats holding up the reconciliation process, including Sens. Sinema, Manchin, and U.S. Reps. Cuellar, Gonzalez, Gottheimer, Schrader, and Murphy, banked over $150,000 in campaign donations from corporate interests—including those that are helping lead business groups opposing the bill."
Appearing on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" just after 7:00 pm, CPC chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) reiterated the position that there will be no support for the BIF from progressives without the reconciliation package coming first. "This isn't some crazy idea," said Jayapal, "this is the president's agenda."
The Build Back Better Act isn’t some fringe wish list — it’s the Democratic Party’s agenda. From child care and pa… https://t.co/tr73XUhYEi— Pramila Jayapal (@Pramila Jayapal) 1633031281.0
Other members of the CPC, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), spent the day also vowing to stand their ground and explaining why:
We remain fully committed to passing President Biden’s entire Build Back Better agenda and delivering transformativ… https://t.co/egrV8dUYMg— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Rep. Ilhan Omar) 1633010464.0
And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) lashed out at the hypocrisy and irrational arguments of Manchin who has tried to claim that sweeping investments in pre-K education, healthcare for seniors, community college, and tackling the climate crisis are unaffordable.
Ever notice how “deficit hawks” vote for record-high defense spending, yet claim bills that help people & challenge… https://t.co/NvSbDcqLfK— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) 1633042781.0
"We won't let massive corporations, billionaires, and a few conservative Democrats stand in the way of delivering transformational progress for millions of working people," Japayal tweeted Thursday evening. "Stick to the plan. Pass both bills, together."