Democrats are in disarray after a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal was canceled this week because President Joe Biden was unable to unite the warring factions within his own party. ABC News reporter Terry Morgan described the Democrats' failure to meet a self-imposed Thursday deadline to pass the infrastructure bill as "more than messy" before criticizing Biden's leadership.
"The mood here is from giddy hopes, to exhaustion and resignation," Morgan reported Friday from the White House.
"There's just no papering over how tough a blow this is to Biden. He's the leader of his Party. Democrats set this deadline and he failed to unite the Party to get it done," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had planned to hold a vote on the $1.2 trillion hard infrastructure bill Thursday. While infrastructure has bipartisan support in Congress, progressive Democrats would not commit to vote for it unless the Senate first came to an agreement to pass the rest of Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda. Free community college tuition, child care and universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, paid family and medical leave, and Biden's climate agenda are all included in a $3.5 trillion spending bill Democrats intend to pass using a process called budget reconciliation, which circumvents the 60-vote requirement to pass most pieces of legislation in the Senate.
The problem is Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are opposed to spending another $3.5 trillion coming off the heels of a massive post-pandemic congressional spending spree. Manchin in particular is worried about rising inflation rates and fears that even more government spending will cause prices for groceries, gas, building materials, and other essential products to continue to rise.
But progressives are demanding that the Senate first pass the reconciliation bill before they consider the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, starkly told CNN that both bills need to advance together or infrastructure will not pass Congress.
"It is an absurd way to do business, to be negotiating a multi-trillion-dollar bill a few minutes before a major vote with virtually nobody knowing what's going on. That's unacceptable," he said Thursday.
"And I think what has got to happen is that tonight, the bipartisan infrastructure bill must be defeated. And we can sit down and work out a way to pass both pieces of legislation," he added.
Meanwhile, Manchin and Sinema won't commit to voting for the reconciliation bill until the infrastructure bill passes the House. Biden is working with Senate Democrats on a compromise that would cost somewhere between $1.9 and $2.3 trillion, NBC News reports.
Lawmakers went home for the weekend after Democrats failed to reach an agreement to pass the infrastructure bill.