Maybe This is Done

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September 29, 2021 6:16 p.m.

Sen. Manchin just put out a statement, scorching in its appraisal of the proposed reconciliation bill and making me think for the first time that this entire thing – both bills – may go down in flames. It’s a lot of the same stuff: debt, inflation, mean taxations, means-testing. But the volume is turned … well, up to 11. It’s not remotely the statement of someone who is on the verge of finding common ground with the rest of the caucus. I heard someone say a bit earlier that maybe killing his bill isn’t the way to get him to yes. But that’s not what’s happening. The rest of the party is begging him to say what he will support. They’re practically begging to get an agreement below $3.5 trillion. He and Kyrsten Sinema just won’t play ball.

As I said, for the first time I’m thinking this may all go down in flames. But this also tells me it is even more important to vote to kill the BIF infrastructure bill if the offer from these two is nothing.

Through this whole saga Manchin has been riffing, saying what comes into his head on a given day. There’s no real strategy or logic to it. That’s why there’s little consistency. But the riffing, the saying what comes into your head each given day is particularly perilous at a moment like this. Because you’re navigating with emotion. You’re navigating with the consensus of establishment Washington which has been dour at best on President Biden since mid-summer.

There was a deal, an agreed upon framework. The Manchin-Sinema-Gottheimer troika got their bill. And as soon as they did they backed out of the deal. That is how we got here. We knew it would be hard to come to an agreement, a lot of tense moments and standoffs. What we’ve actually seen is rather different. They’re not having a hard time coming to an agreement. The troika is refusing to negotiate.

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There’s just no way forward.

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