Ordinarily, I’d be covering something like the Biden’s administration’s infrastructure bill like white on rice, but I haven’t yet felt the need to comment on it at all. The reason is pretty simple. I think we’re watching fake theater. I have never believed that the Democrats and Republicans could reach a deal, and yet they both feel like it’s absolutely necessary to go through the motions of negotiating a deal. The lone exception are the progressives, who have held my position all along. They believe the GOP is posturing and acting in bad faith, and it’s a waste of time to talk to them. If they’re going to be an infrastructure bill, it’s going to happen without any Republican votes.
So, really, I am just waiting for this to become so painfully clear to everyone, on all sides, that we can move on. I think Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia captured the current situation perfectly:
“The one little last step to know is: will [the GOP] make a counter from the Biden counter?” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “It all depends on that question. And if they do that they’re going to do it in the next day or two. And if they don’t do it in the next day or two that means they’re not going to do it.”
He’s right, and it doesn’t matter what was contained in the original offer or the Republican counteroffer or the administration’s counter-counteroffer. It doesn’t matter because there will be no deal. At some point, the counters will stop, and then we can begin talking about what will happen and what should be included in the bill.
It could be that the Republicans give up now. It could be that they offer another watered-down alternative that the Democrats instantly reject. But this will become clear within a few days.
The original goal was to have a deal by Memorial Day and pass something before the Fourth of July, but financial advisers are now expecting it will be done in the fourth quarter, before the holiday recess. Either scenario would require Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia to relent in his opposition to either killing the legislative filibuster or using the budget reconciliation process infrastructure. On the plus side, he seems to be losing patience with the Republicans, particularly their threat to filibuster a January 6 commission. But if he’s going to break on the filibuster, it’s not likely to be on the commission or voting rights, but rather something his constituents actually can support, and infrastructure fits that description.
For now, all this pretending that the Republicans can be reasoned with has a coherent purpose, but not for much longer.