Build Back Better passed the House. What comes next?
The pressure now shifts 100% to Senator Joe Manchin -- but really, to President Biden, to get it done.
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It’s amazing how quickly things can shift. Just two weeks we were in what I call a productive lather over the Democratic loss in Virginia’s governor’s race and the closer-than-expected outcome in New Jersey’s governor’s race.
Now, the massive infrastructure bill has been signed into law by President Biden, paving the way for new bridges, highways, ports, roads, broadband and so much more. And the super-massive Build Back Better bill has passed the House, with even more Democrats than the infrastructure bill — losing only one, Jared Golden from Maine, who’s pathetic following a Susan Collins faux-moderate playbook.
After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spent 8 hours overnight railing against the bill, the president, and the Democrats, and making all kinds of racist remarks — like “terrorists” are crossing the border — the House passed the bill this morning. McCarthy actually did us all a favor by pushing off the Democrats vote last night by speaking for his allotted unlimited amount of time. It buried his speech overnight — it got no attention — and allowed Democrats to vote in the morning, as all of America was awake and watching.
So, to McCarthy, thanks for that!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the big win this morning, calling it “monumental” and building back better for “women and children.” Clearly a big moment for the president’s agenda.
The bill includes four weeks of paid family and medical leave — which Senator Joe Manchin has vowed not to allow — immigration reform, extension of child tax credits and billions to fight climate change.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema appears to have been satisfied with a prescription drug plan that was holding back her “yes” vote even after she won on getting none of Trump’s tax cuts undone — she negotiated a drug plan that is less reformative than what progressives wanted, but it’s better than nothing — and she was embraced by the president at the signing of the infrastructure bill. Hopefully she’s satisfied but we never know with this very bizarre, narcissistic senator.
The real problem though is Joe Manchin. But he is Joe Biden’s problem. The president promised progressives that he’d get this done, and now Biden needs to bring the pressure to bear. Progressives did their part, negotiated in good faith and got most of the obstructionists in the House Democratic caucus on board.
The bill comes in at over 2 trillion dollars — more than what Manchin wanted — and the Congressional Budget Office scored it well, but noted it doesn’t fully pay for itself. But the Treasury Department and the IRS commissioner — a Republican appointed by Donald Trump — disputed that, saying that much more income would be derived by the IRS cracking down on wealthy tax cheats than what the CBO took into account.
Manchin will use that issue — and the overblown issue of inflation (which is temporary) — to try to whittle down this bill. He’s already complaining about putting money toward making electric cars — with unionized workers in the the U.S. — largely because there’s a Toyota plant in West Virginia and Toyota gives him money. But honestly, he we don’t know what he’ll do.
Democrats are right to herald this and remain confident it will pass — that puts the pressure on Manchin. And the president must turn the screws, as Manchin can’t be allowed to derail it. Democrats in the Senate must put the pressure on as well — and they should in fact go in the other direction, and say there’s not enough in the bill, which is a good strategy to counter Manchin’s attempts to harm it. Bernie Sanders is already pushing on that front.
I believe it’s going to happen. And, like I said, those days of just two weeks ago, when Democrats were fretting, could be behind them as they have an enormous agenda passed that is hugely popular with the American people and is a winner heading into the mid-terms.
They must be out there every day selling it and heralding it — and slamming the media for distorting it or trying to claim it harms the president for this or that reason. And you know the media will do that. And Republicans are going to cry “socialism, socialism, socialism!” — when this is far from that — as they move forward with an authoritarian agenda driven by Trump, trying to seize power in this dangerous time.
Messaging is everything and it’s never been the Democrats’ strong suit. We have to be part of changing that, and that means making our voices heard loudly too.