It was shaping up to be one of Joe Biden's worst weeks yet. Humiliated in Virginia and nearly so in New Jersey, Democrats woke up Wednesday morning reeling from rejection. Then came the news that the president's approval rating had collapsed (with a good share of his own voters saying he's done a "worse job" than expected and another two-thirds hoping he doesn't run again). By all rights, Biden's radical agenda was done -- kaput. Until late Friday night, when -- for reasons no one can fathom -- 13 Republicans decided to give the sinking party a life raft.
To most people watching the evening unfold, it was baffling. After finally putting the Left on the run, more than a dozen Republicans seemed determined to give the desperate president a victory by saving his radical agenda. Just when it seemed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was on the verge of a stinging setback, the GOP came to her rescue -- voting in favor of another bill America can't afford: Biden's $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill.
As late as Thursday, even Pelosi didn't know if she had enough votes to put the legislation on the floor. The slow-burning feud between radicals and moderates had been threatening to tank the bill for weeks. Then, in a move that some are calling everything from betrayal to "political malpractice," members of the GOP inexplicably decided to bail Pelosi out -- opening the door to debate on Biden's disastrous Build Back Better plan.
Inside the Republican Party, conservatives were furious. Not only was the bill awash in reckless environmental pork and "anti-white racism," it also carved out some extreme new ground on gender and sexuality. Buried deep in the text, FRC warned in our score letter, were several instances where the Left tried to achieve one of the Equality Act's goals -- a total overhaul of our federal civil rights framework to mandate special SOGI privileges. On those grounds alone, Republicans should have voted no.
And yet, Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) fumed, "Only three days after voters rejected Biden's failed policies in deep blue Virginia and New Jersey, 13 spineless 'Republicans' decided to tag-team with Democrats," warning that the $3.5 trillion dollar "social" infrastructure plan will be on deck now that this fight is out of the way. "Pelosi didn't have the votes in her party to pass this garbage," Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) argued. "That 13 House Republicans provided the votes needed to pass this is absurd," Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) agreed.
While the members in question -- largely from deep blue states -- are insisting the bill was about real infrastructure (roads, bridges, and broadband), others saw it as much more. "The infrastructure bill was but a chit, a chess piece, in forcing through passage of the larger, hotly partisan reconciliation legislation. Their fates were linked," the Federalist's Rachel Bovard wrote. "One would not pass without the other." As recently as October, Pelosi herself vowed, "There ain't gonna be no bipartisan [infrastructure] bill," Pelosi vowed, "unless we have a reconciliation bill..."
Even if Republicans do support traditional infrastructure (and there's plenty of proof that this was not that), is today really the right time to spend $1.2 trillion dollars on it? "The federal government already spends more than enough on infrastructure to meet our needs," Philip Klein argues, "and the COVID-19 bailout money left many states awash in cash. Despite promises, only a small portion of the bill focuses on traditional infrastructure... and the legislation (soon to be law) will add $256 billion to deficits."
Honestly, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, we can't afford it. "The $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure today is roughly 12 times the new spending on roads and bridges. So they're selling it as roads and bridges, but the bill is 12 times bigger... We can't responsibly be spending another trillion dollars." Maybe, he conceded, if this were being offered "in exchange for the Democrats' massive $3.5 trillion dollar reckless tax-and-spend-bill... I could understand the logic of doing the smaller bill. But it's not what's being offered in exchange. The Democrats have made it clear that they're going to... take every penny of [this] spending, and then turn around and try to ram through their massive $3.5 trillion tax and spend bill on top of this -- which means we're looking at $5 trillion dollars in just these two bills." It's a trap, he warned.
Unfortunately, some Republicans weren't listening. Now what's at stake is a takeover of our health care, child care, education and a massive expansion of taxes, the welfare state, amnesty, abortion funding, and crippling federal mandates. This is the radical agenda the GOP helped facilitate -- an agenda, Pelosi warns, that the House will feast on before Thanksgiving.
At least for now, not everyone on the Left is convinced that Biden's sweeping socialist overhaul is the next best step. When even the New York Times is warning that Democrats "deny political reality at their own peril," it's obvious that at least some of the party's apologists see the writing on the wall.
"Many in the president's party point to Tuesday as proof that congressional Democrats need to stop their squabbling and clock some legislative wins ASAP by passing both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a robust version of the Build Back Better plan..." But, the editors continue, "Tuesday's results are a sign that significant parts of the electorate are feeling leery of a sharp Leftward push in the party, including on priorities like Build Back Better... The concerns of more centrist Americans about a rush to spend taxpayer money, a rush to grow the government, should not be dismissed... Time to focus on -- and pass -- policies with broad support. Or risk getting run out of office."
The odds of the Democrats heeding any part of that advice are slim. But if they do plow ahead on this reckless path, let's hope Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have more resolve than Republicans just showed.