About Last (This) Night

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) speaks to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers continue to work towards coming to an agreement to pass le... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) speaks to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers continue to work towards coming to an agreement to pass legislation to fund the government by the new fiscal year deadline on September 30th. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 30, 2021 11:03 p.m.

So Joe Manchin says he doesn’t think there’s going to be a deal tonight.

That’s fine. I’d say it’s actually good. What we’re talking about here is a vast and historic legislative package. Scrambling to hash it together in the wee hours of night for no reason makes no sense. This deadline was always arbitrary.

The good news is that, based on Manchin’s comments, they seem now actually to be negotiating. That’s good. There’s no reason not to let it take a couple days to get it right. That’s completely okay.

As Kate Riga notes here, having blown through not just the deadline but the backup deadline, this puts a bit more slack into the system.

It’s worth stepping back and seeing what appears to have happened here.

As I’ve said repeatedly, this is not progressives vs moderates. It’s actually like 95% of congressional Democrats vs a couple senators and maybe a handful of reps. But that leaves a bit out of the equation. Rep. Jayapal, chair of the Progressive Caucus, said they were going to vote down the BIF. Everyone said that was unrealistic. They had to cave. They were in denial. That’s not how it works. But they were clearly ready to vote it down. So the vote got scrapped or rather delayed and the principals now seem actually to be down to negotiating. That’s good. That is a very good development.

It’s a big win for Jayapal and the caucus she leads. It wasn’t progressives vs moderates; but it was progressives who carried the ball.

A threat is only a threat if you are willing to carry it out. They were willing to carry it out. And the holdouts seem to have relented in their effort to dictate terms. That doesn’t mean they win. The final package is going to be much smaller than $3.5 trillion. But they’ve dropped the effort to dictate.

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But there’s one more part of the picture that hasn’t gotten enough attention.

For the last few days reporters have been asking Majority Whip Jim Clyburn whether he’d started whipping the BIF vote. He kept saying, nope. Haven’t started yet. He said that again mid-day today. The White House meanwhile has been saying they and the progressives are on the same side. So no whipping there either. At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s no one else left.

So the progressives hung tough. But in fact the party leaders were passively supporting their defiance. Maybe more than passively. There’s no other way to read the refusal to whip the votes.

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