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Biden Built Back Better Relations With The Left

When the top progressive in the U.S. House, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), went on Rachel Maddow’s show last week, she used the massive platform to reiterate a threat: that her bloc of lawmakers would vote against a bipartisan infrastructure bill if it weren’t paired with a bill containing the health care, climate, and economic promises they’d ran on for years.

Indeed, Democratic leaders long promised that the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill would travel with a sweeping $3.5 trillion bill that would pass with only Democratic votes. But that vow faces a test this week: Democratic moderates forced a vote on the former bill before the latter is ready, and are essentially daring progressives to sink it.

That vote is scheduled for Thursday, according to a “Dear Colleague” letter sent by Speaker Nancy Pelosi Sunday night.

Bring it on, Jayapal said. “This is the leverage for transformational investments,” she told Maddow, “that people will wake up and feel differently about themselves and will know that government delivered for them.”

President Joe Biden, whose political fortunes ride on the passage of those two bills, was hardly taken aback by this rhetoric. In Jayapal’s telling, Biden loved it—so much so that he felt compelled to tell her so personally.

“He called me last night after I was on Maddow and congratulated me on doing a great job and said he was looking forward to talking to me, so I really want to hear what he has to say,” ” she told reporters.

The call, which came the night before a high-stakes White House meeting with progressives, distilled a strategy that has been a hallmark of Biden’s administration: conspicuous amounts of care, love, and attention for the party’s left flank.

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