By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
Joe Biden has been in office for nine months and the pressure is building on him to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIF), along with a partisan spending bill through budget reconciliation. Biden must find a way through the gridlock in Washington between Democrats, who despite having the majority in Congress, have become divided over how much money should be spent on the Biden agenda.
The Democrats in Congress are divided between the moderate wing of the party and the far-left progressive wing. The debate ultimately comes down to passing a spending bill through the House and Senate. In the House, many far-left-wing members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) are pushing for more spending and a more expansive agenda. Meanwhile, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ) are pushing for less spending.
Ocasio-Cortez and others farther left than Biden support the 3.5 trillion dollar bill that includes climate change funding, infrastructure, healthcare, and child care, which are all significant pieces of the Bernie Sanders agenda and far-left plan. Passing this agenda would fundamentally change the United States and the way people live their lives by expanding the role of government and raising taxes. Considering its tax increases, the bill is supposed to cost nothing.
Although support the bill extends beyond the far left, moderate Democrats in the Senate such as Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kirsten Sinma (D-AZ) are in opposition to the bill, deeming it a travesty that would bury the nation in debt and create an inflation tax on everyday Americans. They are trying to replace the bill with a 1.5 trillion dollar bill. The 1.5 trillion dollar bill was also cut down when Manchin held the line. He brought the bill down from 2.8 trillion dollars, using similar logic to his justification for shooting down the even bigger bill pushed by the far left.
This gridlock is significant as the far left is threatening to reject the smaller bill if it means they can’t get their more expensive bill through, and moderates are refusing to vote yes on the larger reconciliation bill. Biden summoned Manchin and key members of Congress to the White House recently in hopes of breaking the gridlock and coming to an agreement. Despite Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and a few other leading Democrats saying that the meeting was productive and that they were hopeful for an agreement, no deal has been made since then, and the trouble over the bill remains.
The gridlock is creating an issue for the Biden agenda, as this has now become a game of chicken between the two groups of Democrats, waiting to see who will cave. If he can’t help pass anything substantial, President Biden’s credibility with the far-left may be hurt. Meanwhile, if the 3.5 trillion dollar bill does pass, the moderate Democrats who voted for Biden as the middle-of-the-road alternative for Bernie Sanders may question the President’s political alignment.