There’s been a lot of fretting over the last couple days about whether a group of Republicans who had not actually committed to support the bipartisan mini-bill were no longer going to support it, thus putting in doubt President Biden’s entire infrastructure agenda. But that’s the wrong way to look at this. This has always been and remains an issue in Democrats’ hands – especially Joe Manchin’s hands. Republicans are just players on a chess board in which Democrats are making the moves. And Joe Manchin made this pretty clear this morning.
Republicans have been trying to take control of the debate, suggesting they need to be convinced by Joe Biden that there’s absolutely positively no “linkage” or that he’ll agree not to pass any more infrastructure, hard or soft, with only Democratic votes.
But Manchin seems clear. We have our mini-bill deal. Let’s take the win and move on. Of course we’re also going to do soft infrastructure through reconciliation. “Take that victory and then let’s go …. We know [the Republicans] are not going to go to the human infrastructure because of the adjustments to the tax code. We can still go through the process, knowing we probably will have to go to reconciliation and then do what we can afford to do.”
I’m not suggesting that we’re not going to have a lot more drama and cliffhanger moments from now until at least September. But he’s pretty clear that train isn’t stopping just because Republicans are doing their drama.