We need some context. President Handsome Joe Biden’s scaled-back framework —if it passes!— means that Democrats will have passed nearly $5 trillion in spending on domestic programs:
- The pandemic relief bill
- The bipartisan infrastructure bill
- And now, the budget reconciliation bill
No one predicted victories like this when Biden won the 2020 Goat Rodeo almost exactly a year ago. It took the surprise twin wins in the Georgia Senate to make any of this possible.
As we noted yesterday, we’ve given up on watching the sausage being made, but let’s see what is in it (at least as I write this):
- The biggest climate investment in US history
- Universal pre-K and an improved plan to reduce child care costs
- A one-year extension of the child tax credit
- The biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade (including an expansion of Medicare to include hearing benefits)
- A tax surcharge on Americans with incomes above $10M Ameros
And the things that Manchinema knocked out (BOTH SIDES!!1!):
- Paid family and medical leave
- Prescription-drug pricing reform
- Dental and vision Medicare expansion
- Clean electricity program
- Free community college
- A billionaire tax
Democrats insist some/many of these provisions are still on the table. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (my Representative, yo!) the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Thursday said that members of the House Progressive Caucus “enthusiastically endorse” Biden’s framework, and that they were psyched to vote for both infrastructure bills in tandem.
So let’s cheer on Team Biden, and remember that all of these items in all the lists above are opposed by Republicans.
Yes, it is a big eff’ing deal.
UPDATE 1 – Tiger Beat’s morning email thingie:
To say Thursday was a roller coaster for President JOE BIDEN’s agenda wouldn’t do justice to how truly head-spinning the day was. The White House releases a Build Back Better (BBB) deal backed by MANCHINEMA (now they’re getting somewhere) — only to watch BERNIE SANDERS balk (never mind). The president delays his trip to Europe to rally House Democrats behind his plan — then whiffs, somehow neglecting to deliver the tough love message Democratic leaders wanted him to so they could pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) this week.
But just when it looked like the day would end in embarrassment for Democrats, the Congressional Progressive Caucus issues a surprise endorsement of the president’s compromise plan — removing one of the last big obstacles in its way.
The CPC’s decision to back the new BBB framework got drowned out by the group’s refusal to allow a BIF vote Thursday before full text was drafted. That deprived Speaker NANCY PELOSI of the vote she was determined to hold on BIF, and yielded lots of headlines about Democrats’ failure to clinch the win.
But the dispute over sequencing masked a major achievement for the president: Hill progressives now appear ready to swallow this deal — and that means it’s likely a matter of when, not if, it passes.
The fact that the group isn’t making demands for major changes is quite something given that many of their priorities were significantly scaled back as moderates got most of what they wanted.
“We wanted a $3.5 trillion package, but we understand the reality of the situation,” CPC Chair PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-Wash.) told reporters Thursday night. While she welcomes senators negotiating to make additional changes to the bill, she said specifically that her group’s endorsement is not contingent on that.
That stance is especially notable since earlier in the day, Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed unhappy with the package and ready to fight for more. He complained there were “major gaps” in the framework, specifically on prescription drugs and Medicare. At the same time, he did not draw any red lines and praised the plan as “the most consequential bill since the 1960s.”
It’s a reminder that there is no Freedom Caucus of the left and probably never will be. Progressives find it hard to vote against things they believe in, even if the bill doesn’t have everything that they want. For that, perhaps Biden, who’s set to meet with the pope today, should count his blessings.