It’s amazing how one decision can blow the lid off Capitol Hill. On Monday, one day after Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he would vote no on President Biden’s “social infrastructure” legislation, the political blame game was all over the Democratic Party (BBB).
This defeat for Biden, who has already seen his national job performance poll numbers plunge, puts his domestic agenda on hold as he gets ready for the 2022 midterm election cycle.
“I think what Sen. Manchin did yesterday represents such an egregious breach of the trust of the president,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s an outcome we had warned about well over a month ago.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), another Progressive Caucus leader, accused Manchin of abandoning suffering Americans.
“Build Back Better is about addressing the unprecedented challenges we are facing right now: a climate catastrophe, working families struggling to make ends meet, addressing inflation, and giving everyday Americans a shot at prosperity. Walking away from BBB is essentially ignoring the crises in front of us that demand action,” Escobar told The Hill.
The White House has struggled to manage an intraparty standoff between progressives and moderates over whether to pass the Build Back Better Act and a separate infrastructure package together or separately.
To break the stalemate, Biden spent the majority of his political capital promising progressives that if they voted for the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, he would get Manchin’s vote for Build Back Better.
The AOC-led progressives accepted the deal by voting for the infrastructure bill’s passage, leaving the BBB alone.
This decision by the less experienced representatives seemed like a long shot to me, given that Senator Manchin was objected to the costs of paid family leave and expanded child tax credits from the start, but they still needed his vote.
Via The Hill
A House Democrat, requesting to be on background, also criticized Biden for never holding anyone on his team accountable after big political missteps, including the botched and deadly Afghanistan withdrawal and delays with rental assistance funding.
“This is an indictment of the senior leadership in the White House. The worst part is nobody will be held accountable for this. They don’t understand the American people want results; they don’t want drama and rhetoric,” the House Democrat said in a lengthy rant over the phone. “Everyone has been left high and dry. I can see everyone [vulnerable Democrats] fleeing for the hills at this point,” abandoning Biden and running their own races.
“It started with Afghanistan. Nobody was held accountable for the chaos that the Afghanistan withdrawal constituted. It allowed everyone to get a pass. It sent the message that the president will stick by you so do whatever you want,” the lawmaker continued.
“I do think [Biden] needs to clean house if we have any chance of salvaging 2022. There have to be consequences,” the source added.
Given that the party will need Manchin’s future support to pass any significant legislation, some in the party questioned the wisdom of White House press secretary Jen Psaki openly criticizing and even attempting to “shame” Manchin shortly after his appearance on Fox News.
Psaki accused Manchin of negotiating in bad faith and breaking his word, which can almost be fighting words in West Virginia’s traditional communities.
Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, offered some historical context for the ramifications if Biden does not act quickly.
“This hurts for the midterms if you don’t pass it. In 1994, Democrats failed to pass Hillarycare. In 2010, they failed to pass cap and trade. In 2018, Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare. It’s not that voters desperately wanted all of those policies to happen, but it looked like the party in power was not effective,”