Top Biz Lobbyists Sing Song of WTFs and Woe Over BIF In the Balance!

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September 30, 2021 6:17 p.m.

There’s a fascinating peek into one aspect of the sausage production process in tonight’s Politico Influence, their newsletter about the lobbying world. The headline says it all: “Lobbyists’ frustration with BIF uncertainty spills out into the open.” The account is chock full of the heads of the big industry lobbies tossing WTFs at the House Progressive caucus. But the fascinating part is a bit more than that. They’re pissed at the Progressive Caucus. No mystery there. What’s clear – and this matches what I’ve been hearing nonstop – is that the big business and manufacturing lobbies want the BIF really, really bad. What also galls them though is that House Republicans won’t save it for them.

I actually suspect that there are many more House Dems who won’t vote for the BIF without reconciliation than just the half-plus of the Progressive Caucus. But if Republicans chose to they could come in and replace the Democratic no votes. They could actually put the Democrats in a real bind – setting off a major conflagration within the Democratic coalition. If Sinema and Manchin got their bill with GOP votes in the House they could laugh their way all the way to the NAM and Chamber of Commerce fundraiser. But the Republicans aren’t doing that. They are whipping their members hard to oppose the BIF and they seem to be succeeding. That goes against what’s now basically the Republican doctrine of massive resistance – oppose anything Joe Biden supports even if you basically support it on the merits.

As I mentioned earlier this week I’ve gotten reports of lots of the big business lobbies being really clear on their goal. Pass the BIF; kill the Build Back Better program in reconciliation. This has struck a lot of them as eminently doable. But I think we’re starting to see it might not be doable. And they’re kind of freaking out.

Michael Johnson, who leads the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, said: “That’s why it boggles the mind that the progressives in the House have decided to take a very popular bill hostage and the Republican leadership has decided to not rescue that very popular hostage when they easily could.” Chris Spear of the Trucking Association called the situation “inexcusable.” “Every one of them, Republicans and Democrats, should be ashamed of themselves.” 

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“If this vote today was occurring on the merits of the bill, the outcome wouldn’t be in doubt,” said the Chamber of Commerce’s top lobbyist.

Refusing to pass the BIF without a clear set of commitments about reconciliation is very clearly the right thing to do. Even if Manchin and Sinema don’t care that much about the BIF there are other powerful folks who do.

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