So Where Are We?

September 28, 2021 11:31 a.m.

We’re seeing a lot of talk about the decoupling of the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill. Let’s start by stating the obvious: this isn’t great. But we’ve been in the land of the not great for at least a couple weeks. That said, we should remember that the joined approach isn’t simply about timing. It’s the commitment that the President’s agenda is both bills and that both have to pass. Insisting on passing them together in sequence was a way of guaranteeing that both would pass – giving each side a veto over what the other side wanted most.

Manchin, Sinema and Gottheimer and about 10 other reps broke that deal. That’s critical to remember here – not just for now but for the future, the long future. As soon as they got the vote they wanted they started pulling away from the deal. But that’s where we are and the White House and the bicameral party leadership have to deal with that reality. They appear to be in the process of deciding that they have no choice but to give up this very significant leverage.

As I said, not great. To put it mildly. But to my thinking at least what coupling is really about is the commitment to pass both bills. And I don’t think that’s changed.

They are looking at their options and seem to be in the process of deciding that dropping the explicit timing hook up is their best path to getting both bills passed. I’m not being pollyannaish about this. This is not a good development. The new path is more arduous and risky. It’s a given that the $3.5 trillion price tag will come down. My point is that we should be clear about distinguishing between big picture goals and the particular ways you achieve them.

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I have a reasonable degree of confidence that they have a plan and can get that done.

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