Biden Tries to Walk the Line Between AOC and Manchin

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has no desire to pass, let alone even vote on, President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill. He does, however, very much want Biden to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed last month

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t think the bipartisan infrastructure bill spends nearly enough money. To make up for that bill’s shortcomings, she desperately wants Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending bill to become law.

Only one of these Democrats will get what he or she wants — unless Ocasio-Cortez decides to blow up the whole thing and then Biden gets nothing. We’ll find out who wins next week.

Democratic House centrists secured a promise from Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month that Pelosi will hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House on Sept. 27. If it passes, it can go to Biden’s desk, where he will sign it and it will become law.

But at that point, progressives like Ocasio-Cortez believe centrists in both the House and Senate will stop working on Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill. And they are right. Manchin has called for a pause on the reconciliation process, possibly putting it off until 2022.

To keep the reconciliation process alive, Ocasio-Cortez and her progressive allies are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill next week. “I will not vote for the infrastructure bill unless reconciliation has passed both chambers,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters today.

To be clear, this is not happening. Neither the House nor the Senate is on target to pass reconciliation bills this week. Ocasio-Cortez is going to have to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

And what happens if the infrastructure bill fails? Well, then the entire Biden agenda is set to fall apart. “If they delay the vote or it goes down, then I think you can kiss reconciliation goodbye,” Oregon Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader told Politico. “Reconciliation would be dead.”

So this time next week, we will know who has won. Either Biden and Pelosi will have twisted enough progressive arms and Manchin will have has infrastructure bill, or the infrastructure bill will fail and reconciliation will be dead.

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