Speed Reads

Build Back Maybe

House progressives endorse Biden's pared-back spending framework, likely making passage 'when, not if'

Thursday was full of ups and down for President Biden, his agenda, and perhaps the success of a crucial climate change summit, starting with the president laying out a $1.8 trillion framework he said congressional Democrats could all support — and ending with the failure of House Democrats to give final approval to a separate bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

"Progressives were triumphant, but the rest of the Democratic caucus was seething," Politico's Katherine Tully-McManus reports. "I think it's wholly apparent that today was not a success," Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said Thursday, blaming unidentified "obstructionists" for "not delivering" the infrastructure bill "because apparently failing roads and bridges can just wait in the minds of some people." 

"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," Politico's Rachael Bade recapped Friday morning. This endorsement "was drowned out" by the CPC's decision to block the infrastructure bill until it gets more assurances about the details of the $1.8 trillion framework and its fate in the Senate. "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 restive centrists of the Senate Democratic caucus, Sens. Joe Manchin (W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), also "offered positive comments about the deal, but without committing to vote for it," The Washington Post reports. But they got most of what they asked for in the negotiations. Progressive Democrats had to give up a lot. "We wanted a $3.5 trillion package, but we understand the reality of the situation," CPC chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters Thursday night. 

And the fact that the CPC "isn't making demands for major changes" is "a reminder that there is no Freedom Caucus of the left and probably never will be," Politico's Bade writes. "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."