A group of nine conservative Democrats tried to flex their muscle against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the infrastructure package -- but ended up with egg on their faces.
For those unfamiliar with Washington jargon, there are actually two infrastructure packages: One is a smaller bipartisan bill that deals with roads and bridges, the second is a budget bill that deals with human infrastructure.
The conservative nine, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said that they wanted the smaller bipartisan bill first when Pelosi said that she wanted both bills to be passed. They attempted to give Pelosi an ultimatum, though it isn't clear the reason why they would want to blow up such a huge plan.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted that by Monday the group was growing increasingly "isolated" in the Democratic Party, becoming known as the "Sabotage Squad."
Tuesday, Pelosi called for the vote on the large bill and the nine conservative Democrats supported it.
CNN reporter Daniella Diaz tweeted that she asked Pelosi about the "deal" she reached with moderates after the vote.
"What deal?" Pelosi responded. "They wanted clarification about how we go forward and that's what we did."
"A win?" Pelosi responded when asked by another reporter about whether Gottheimer scored a victory. "We're not talking about a win. We're talking about passing a rule."
The Intercept explained that the actual motivations by Gottheimer and his group of nine were never known. Progressive Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) even called it baffling.
"I honestly really don't [know] because we cannot spend infrastructure money until after the new fiscal year," said Schakowsky. "I'm mystified. I can't figure this out."
Politico questioned "the durability of the centrists' victory," noting that the showdown did nothing more than reveal the cracks in their coalition as they appeared to be reaching for influence.
Squad member and progressive member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said of the centrists, "I don't consider them concessions. The fact that they're gonna end up supporting what they said they wouldn't without actually getting what they wanted, I think sets them up for failure in negotiations in the future."
Politico described the nine conservatives as a kind of annoyance to the rest of the party who "usually spend more time arguing over the semantic differences between the groups than they do joining together to force leadership's hand."
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) said that they were working with leadership behind the scenes, but noted that the ideas from their group were ignored. She then got a call from the president that some described as "tense."
"I can't explain why the serious negotiations didn't happen until the eleventh hour," Murphy said after the vote. "I always find that people who wait until the very last minute to do their homework, let's just say they end up staying up very late."
Murphy assumed that the conservative nine were the "serious negotiations," not negotiations with the Senate or Republicans.
But Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) thinks they won something by being assured that they'd be part of the conversation moving forward.
"We got a date to vote on this, on the 27th. We agreed that we're going to be voting, same with the Senate Democrats. So I think we got everything," Cuellar claimed.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Gottheimer even went so far as to pretend that he was doing the work of President Joe Biden, saying that he was fighting for the White House's agenda and that they were supportive of the conservative nine's efforts. When the Intercept asked the White House if that was true, spokesperson Andrew Bates said simply: "No."
Addressing the issue Tuesday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow couldn't figure out why the Sabotage Squad would want to kill Biden's entire legislative agenda for his first term in office. The threat didn't seem like a logical one, she explained.
Sounds like "mutually assured destruction," said Maddow, noting that the group got very little out of their fit than free media. She said that the group ultimately risked the entire infrastructure deal going down in flames, which likely wouldn't help them in the mid-term elections.