After some Capitol Hill drama yesterday, House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) joked this morning, "These negotiations are never easy. I think it was Hillary Clinton who says it takes a village. I say it takes a therapist. But the therapy session is over."
To briefly recap, Democratic congressional leaders were in complete agreement on how to advance President Biden's infrastructure agenda. Before the Senate left for its August break, the chamber passed both a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution that would allow the party to pass a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Once the House passed the same budget plan, negotiations could begin in earnest over the details.
Nine House Democratic moderates, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), threatened to blow up the entire agenda unless their chamber passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill first and, in the process, gave them control over the second part of the two-track framework.
The result was an impasse: Dems didn't have the votes to pass the Senate's infrastructure bill (because rank-and-file progressives had no incentive to give up their leverage), and Dems also didn't have the votes to pass the budget resolution (because the centrist "Suicide Squad" wouldn't budge.)
House leaders hoped to have a procedural vote last night, but it was called off when it became clear to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that it wouldn't pass. As of late this morning, however, it appears there's a light at the end of this tunnel -- and it's probably not a train. NBC News reported:
House Democrats regrouped Tuesday after delaying a vote to advance President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill and multitrillion-dollar social safety net expansion, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi struggled to tame a rebellion from centrist lawmakers. At a caucus meeting Tuesday, Pelosi told Democrats she was optimistic a deal was close as she eyed an afternoon vote that would include concessions to appease the moderates.
Pelosi reportedly told her members this morning, "I think we're close to landing the plane."
The details are still coming together, but by all accounts, the Speaker has put together a compromise plan in which the House agrees to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill by Sept. 27 -- a month from Friday -- and in exchange, the small contingent of moderates will agree to advance their party's budget resolution.
If the relevant players accept this path, it will represent a rather dramatic walkback for the nine centrists, who crawled quite far out onto a limb with no real plan to get down.
All of this is expected to come together over the next few hours.
But even if House Dems are able to link arms long enough to get through this part of the process, the second part will be more difficult: After today, the party will start negotiating the specific terms of a $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" package, while also working on voting rights, which will include a House vote this week on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Watch this space.