If that remains the case, it’s likely that both bills will pass, securing a sweeping legislative legacy for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party. But if the mutual leverage disappears, the whole enterprise falls apart. To avoid that, Hoyer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders settled on the “two-track” strategy, in which the bills move forward in tandem, and Biden is on board.
The trouble is, tying the bills together to assure that they both succeed also leaves open the chance that they could both fail, making it possible that, come the end of September, Democrats will end up with something not a single one of them wants: nothing.
After the conservative faction reached its deal with Pelosi on Tuesday, its leader, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, said in a statement that the Sept. 27 commitment ensured that the $1 trillion bill would “receive stand-alone consideration, fully delinked, and on its own merits.”
But that is demonstrably not true, because Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in her own statement: “As our members have made clear for three months, the two are integrally tied together, and we will only vote for the infrastructure bill after passing the reconciliation bill.”
The conservative Democrats have suggested that the current arrangement, which requires them to support something close to the $3.5 trillion budget bill if they want their $1 trillion infrastructure bill to pass, amounts to extortion. But there is really nothing they can do about it because they need the progressives as much as the progressives need them.
Pelosi promised a vote on the $1 trillion package by Sept. 27, and she promised to rally Democratic support for its passage. She didn’t, and couldn’t, promise to succeed.
Which means the new deadline changes very little.