Amid a series of setbacks this week, Rep. Pramila Jayapal acknowledged that progressive lawmakers are currently limited in their ability to advance a pro-working class agenda—an implicit endorsement of Sen. Joe Manchin's advice to elect more left-leaning candidates if the goal is to win transformative policies that are popular and would benefit the vast majority.
In an interview with Politico published Thursday, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Jayapal (D-Wash.) said that her caucus has been unable to prevent right-wing Democrats from gutting the party's Build Back Better Act (BBB) because "we don't have enough control."
Manchin wields an enormous amount of influence because passing BBB through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process requires the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. The coal profiteer also has less incentive to back the bill since the fossil fuel-friendly physical infrastructure measure he favors has already been signed into law by President Joe Biden.
As it became apparent on Wednesday that Senate Democrats would likely postpone consideration of Biden's proposal to invest $1.75 trillion over 10 years to address the climate crisis and expand the social safety net, Manchin and 41 other Democrats joined 46 Senate Republicans to pass a one-year, $778 billion military budget.
With BBB stalled, Senate Democrats have turned their attention to a last-ditch effort to pass voting rights legislation before the end of the year. However, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)—another one of the party's corporate-backed obstacles—dug her heels in to defend the chamber's 60-vote filibuster rule, which gives the minority party veto power over most bills, including ones aimed at neutralizing the GOP's nationwide assault on the franchise.
Because of Manchin's latest attempt to eliminate the enhanced child tax credit—a move that would push millions of kids across the U.S. back into poverty—it is possible that families with children may have just received their final monthly payment of up to $300 per child this week.
With student loan payments set to resume in February due to Biden's own intransigence, which persists despite rising inflation caused in large part by corporate price-gouging, progressive critics have warned Democrats that they are facing a potential bloodbath in next year's midterm elections.
At the same time, Manchin himself suggested in September that the only solution to the current impasse is to get more progressives into office.
"All we need to do I guess for them to get theirs," he said, "is elect more liberals."
Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).