House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said she expected a $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure package to be voted on sometime today, demonstrating a level of confidence that belies the enormous challenges that lie ahead .
The California Democrat often smiled and called the eleventh hour negotiation “the fun part.” on a related but separate $ 3.5 trillion special expense bill to be driven forward through reconciliation.
“We are well on our way to win the vote,” she said at her weekly press conference this morning. “I don’t want to consider any other options.”
There could be literally dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives from the progressive wing of the party right now who are unwilling to vote as moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on bipartisan law on reconciliation in their chamber.
The House Democratic majority has only three votes left; the Senate is 50-50 split, which requires the support of Manchin and Sinema.
Pelosi told reporters today that the importance of the reconciliation package cannot be overestimated.
“Reconciliation [is] the high point of my service in Congress, “said Pelosi,” because it’s about the children. The children, the children, the children. Their health, education, the economic security of their families, a clean, safe environment in which to thrive. “
She continued, “Right now it’s impossible … to convince people to vote for them [bipartisan bill] without the assurances that the reconciliation bill [vote] will happen. And it will.”
Pelosi insisted that “we are on our way to have something that I can say to my colleagues with integrity and certainty. [this] is the path we’re on … and I can’t tell you anything until we come to an agreement. I think we are on the way that will lead there. “
When asked if she really thinks there could be an agreement by the end of the day, Pelosi said, “That’s the plan.”
In the meantime, Manchin has continued to cloud this result with real uncertainty. He has continued to make comments in the past 24 hours that could irrevocably alienate progressives who are threatening to refuse to support the bipartisan bill fearing it would be their only lever to force the reconciliation measure to pass.
First Manchin issued a statement last night saying he would not support a law that would spend “trillions more on new and expanded government programs”.
Then, today, he confirmed the existence of a leaked memo, sent in late July to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), setting out his demands for reconciliation.
This document received from POLITICO contains several “climate” requirements, including the fact that the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources – chaired by Manchin – has “sole responsibility” for developing a clean energy standard.
It states that climate spending should focus on “innovation, not elimination” and be “fuel neutral”. And on energy taxation policy, Manchin said that carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) needs to be included and that coal and natural gas are “viable”.
If tax credits for wind and solar power are expanded, the tax breaks for fossil fuels should not be lifted, Manchin said in the memo, citing intangible drilling costs and credits for improved oil production.
Intangible drilling costs would be abolished as part of a major revision of the clean energy tax, p. 1298, which finance chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Says will be the “fulcrum” of climate regulations in reconciliation. This measure would “prospectively” end the interruptions in expanded oil production for plants whose construction begins after December 31, 2026.
Manchin also called for the tax breaks for vehicles and fuels not to be limited to electric vehicles and for hydrogen to be allowed.
Progressives and environmentalists are likely to be deeply concerned by this new information, not to mention Manchin’s insistence that the top-line number on the bill shouldn’t exceed $ 1.5 trillion.
The original Democratic number was $ 6 trillion, and many complain that $ 3.5 trillion still doesn’t go far enough, especially not to tackle the scale of the climate crisis.
Pelosi defended Manchin at her press conference today, calling him “a great member of the Senate”. She said working with him in securing pension benefits for miners was one of her “great privileges” in Congress.
“We are friends, we are Italian Americans,” she said. “We are coming. We have common values. I have great respect for him.”
“Vote more liberals”
When Pelosi called meetings with various groups of progressives and moderates in her office this afternoon as part of her elaborate whipping operation, Manchin held court outside the Capitol with a crowd of reporters saying that $ 1.5 trillion remains his number, a top Line that he feels would “not jeopardize our economy”.
If progressives want more, he said, “they can do the rest later” – a comment that could effectively seal the deal for today’s infrastructure vote.
Some people refused to accept responsibility for their role in fueling the flames of liberal fear. He claimed that failure of the bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives was the progressives’ fault, despite having recognized his party’s “two-pronged” process for infrastructure and reconciliation in the past.
“No two calculations should ever be linked together in such a way that the perfect is the enemy of the good,” Manchin said today.
He reiterated his concerns about the current climate provisions of the reconciliation plan, arguing that the final package must take into account the role of natural gas.
“I’m just not in favor of giving public corporations that have shareholders free public dollars when I know they’ll be very profitable in the end, whatever we do,” Manchin said in an overt reference to that proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program or CEPP.
When Manchin reached out to reporters, about a dozen protesters shouted, “Hey, Joe, we had a deal,” calling Manchin a “traitor.”
Some people denied that it was reversing its course in any way. “I was in no way, shape, or form a liberal,” said Manchin. “There’s nobody who ever thought it was me.”
If progressives want their $ 3.5 trillion, he continued, “Choose more liberals. I am not asking them to change. I’m ready to go from zero to 1.5 [trillion]. “