What’s Biden Waiting For?

If the bipartisan infrastructure bill — a tentpole of President Biden’s agenda — fails in the House on Thursday, the President will have no one but himself to blame.

And it very well may fail. In the past 24 hours, multiple House progressives have publicly stated that they will not vote for the bill until the one-party social spending and climate package is ready.

Biden — who said the day the bill passed the Senate that he wanted the House to “send it to my desk as soon as possible” — sat back and let Speaker Pelosi decide the pacing of the bill. Pelosi took her time, but eventually started pressing progressives to back the bill this week.

But Biden knew the math required presidential outreach as well. Pelosi can’t get there with just her Democrats; three Democratic defections would kill the bill if House Republicans united against it, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has urged them to do. Some Republicans who back the bill have been urging the White House to get in touch with persuadable Republicans just as it did with Senate Republicans in August. But Biden has been silent.

The President has now cancelled a trip that had been scheduled for the eve of the vote, which means he may be getting to work. If the bill is to pass tomorrow, Biden has to get on the phone today.

Emboldened progressives are rushing to come out against passing the infrastructure bill on Thursday. Roll Call reports that the majority of the 94-member Congressional Progressive Caucus left a Tuesday meeting “committed to voting against the infrastructure bill Thursday since the reconciliation package won’t be done by then.” In addition, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — who voted for the bill last month — is now urging House progressives to vote against it “until Congress passes a strong reconciliation bill.”

Yet bizarrely, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told Politico that he is “not ready” to start whipping Democratic support on a vote that is less than two days away. On when he would start, Clyburn said, “I don’t know when that is, but I think I’ll feel it.”

There’s literally no time left to waste. This bill that is supported by the vast majority of Americans is heading toward potential defeat because of the power of the extremes of both parties — another “victory” for the radicals at the expense of good, two-party policy.

Passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill is essential — not just because America’s crumbling infrastructure needs it, but because it is the best opportunity in years to show that the parties can come together to get practical things done. A short-term “win” for the extremes will be at the long-term loss for good governance.

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