Often touted as one of the most effective House speakers in American history, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has suffered an embarrassing series of losses this week related to two massive spending bills championed by different factions of her party, and in the words of one far-left Democrat, her conduct in recent days has amounted to a “betrayal.”
In a stunning standoff between so-called moderate Democrats and the far-left progressives in the party, Pelosi has found herself caught in the middle with almost nowhere left to go in her quest to help facilitate passage of two major components of President Joe Biden’s first-term agenda.
After having made a pact with the far-left legislators in her party to inextricably link a bipartisan infrastructure bill with a much larger $3.5 trillion social spending package, Pelosi signaled this week that political realities on the ground would require her to pass the smaller bill first before undertaking further consideration of the second if either stood a chance of success.
Infuriated by the move, liberal Democrats pledged to withhold their support on the $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure measure, especially in the absence of additional clarity on precisely what level of spending more moderate members of the party would allow into the more expansive bill that was expected to be pushed through via the reconciliation process without the need for Republican votes, as the New York Times noted.
Progressive firebrand Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was especially biting in her attack on Pelosi’s handling of the situation, tweeting “Let me be clear: bringing the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote without the #BuildBackBetter Act at the same time is a betrayal. We will hold the line and vote it down.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was another on the far left who expressed an unwillingness to accede to Pelosi’s requests for patience, saying earlier this week, “Should we tell young people of this country, ‘sorry, taking on the crisis of climate change just isn’t that important’? Should we tell working families, ‘sorry, we’re not going to make child care affordable’? $3.5 trillion IS the compromise. Let’s get this done.”
Earlier in the week, Pelosi continued to provide assurances that both spending measures would be passed this week, but prospects for such an outcome deteriorated rapidly as progressives asserted their influence, called her bluff, and jeopardized the legislative victories Biden so desperately needs after several weeks of controversy and declining approval among voters.
The status of negotiations has been changing on almost an hourly basis over the last several days, and as of late Friday, far-left Rep. Pramila Jayapal acknowledged that the price tag affixed to the massive reconciliation bill would have to come down in order to secure passage, saying, “We’re going to have to come down in our number. We’re going to get to work and see what we can do,” as Fox News reported.
Though the end result of all of this wrangling may well be an ungodly amount of unnecessary and unwise federal spending, the process itself has offered eye-opening insight into just how serious the internal divisions within the Democrat Party truly are and how much Pelosi’s supposedly legendary influence has diminished of late.