While some Democrats have tried to put on a happy face and assert a deal is close, the reality of the negotiations going on around the reconciliation bill paints a different picture. While there may have been a little progress with Joe Manchin over the weekend, Kyrsten Sinema appears to be nowhere in the picture.
Yet, even regarding Manchin, does this sound like a man whose about to hand the left all their wildest dreams?
NEW: Manchin tonight at a dinner:
“I'm totally out of sync with 48 other Democrats. … I love them all. And I love all the Republicans. So I'm just trying to survive in a very, very, very divided Congress in a very divided country.”
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) October 26, 2021
It’s certainly something to see a sitting senator admit he’s “totally out of sync” with almost every other member of his party. And while The Washington Post proclaimed yesterday that a deal was “coalescing” on Biden’s agenda, complete with a smiling picture of the president, I see no evidence of that at all. Manchin has recently stated that they are nowhere close, and that appears to still be the case.
I do find it interesting that he speaks of “surviving.” Perhaps he’s just talking about the immense harassment he’s received from the left, but he also could be talking about the political line he’s trying to toe. Being from West Virginia, nothing would be better for Manchin than Democrats getting zero. But being a Democrat, he’s desperately tried to provide them with a lifeline by offering a deal. The progressives have remained as stubborn as ever, though.
On that topic, Steny Hoyer, the number 2 person in the Democrat House poured cold water on claims of leverage from the Bernie Sanders wing.
“What leverage do they have? If your assumption is Sinema and Manchin are going to be moved by that delay, I haven't seen any evidence,” Hoyer said after I asked him about progressives effectively delaying the first infrastructure vote to show their leverage
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 26, 2021
CNN’s Manu Raju is having the progressives whisper sweet nothings into his ear about the blockage of the infrastructure bill and their demands to pass reconciliation at the same time. But as Hoyer points out, what exactly was effective about that play? The answer is nothing. All it did was harden Sinema and Manchin, who felt they had negotiated the infrastructure deal in good faith. Now, Jayapal and others want to try to hold it hostage. But you can’t hold something hostage that doesn’t mean much to the other side. As I said, Manchin would be fine with nothing, and I suspect Sinema isn’t far behind.
In the end, these comments on negotiations show a party in chaos. Their coalition has crumbled, and those that have no leverage refuse to admit that reality. That’s a recipe for stalemate, and that’s exactly what we are currently seeing. The idea that a deal gets done before the end of the month, which is the White House’s goal, is probably a fantasy at this point.