WASHINGTON — Impatience is mounting among some New York Democrats on Capitol Hill as negotiations drag on over infrastructure.
What You Need To Know
- Rep. Ritchie Torres said he prefers Democrats use a process called reconciliation to bypass the 60-vote filibuster and go it alone in passing an infrastructure plan
- Sen. Joe Manchin and other Senate moderates want to see a bipartisan infrastructure deal
- Democrats, with slim margins in Congress and a coalition spanning the spectrum from Sen. Manchin to Sen. Bernie Sanders, face a difficult balancing act
“We no longer live in a democracy. We live in the tyranny of Joe Manchin,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres, referencing the West Virginia Democratic Senator.
Torres, a Democrat representing The Bronx, said he prefers Democrats use a process called reconciliation to bypass the 60-vote filibuster and go it alone in passing an infrastructure plan. However, Manchin and other Senate moderates are standing in the way.
Manchin is advocating for a bipartisan deal. His office did not respond to a request for comment regarding Torres' remarks.
“It's one thing to pursue bipartisanship out of necessity. But to pursue bipartisanship for its own sake, strikes me as silly,” Torres said.
Torres is by no means alone. Many progressive Democrats are concerned, for example, that any bipartisan agreement would not do enough to address climate issues.
A new proposal being advanced in the Senate by five Republicans and five Democrats - including Manchin - is far smaller than the $2 trillion plan President Joe Biden first pitched. Also unlike Biden’s plan, it focuses largely on traditional infrastructure.
Some progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, question whether enough Republicans would even go along with a bipartisan deal if one is reached.
“I think we really need to start asking some of these Democratic senators, where they plan on getting 60 votes - these 10 Republican senators that there’s a theory that we’re going to get,” Ocasio-Cortez said over the weekend on CNN.
Such is delicate balancing act Democrats face on Capitol Hill. They have a slim to non-existent margin in both chambers and a coalition spanning the political spectrum from Manchin to Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Any one Democratic senator effectively has veto power whenever Democrats try to bypass the filibuster in the 50-50 Senate. And in the House, where the Democratic majority is slim, progressives could form a blockade if they stick together.
Todd Belt, a political scientist at The George Washington University, said allowing the bipartisan talks to continue gives Biden some cover.
“If it falls well short of what he thinks he needs in the infrastructure bill, then he can say, ‘Look, they just weren't playing fair,’” said Belt, who serves as director of the political management program at GW.
On Tuesday, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn said the White House is instructing Democrats to be ready to move forward on two tracks: continuing the bipartisan talks while also preparing to go it alone.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, meanwhile, said he will be meeting with Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee Wednesday to talk about taking steps toward the reconciliation process, which would allow a vote along party lines.