Leaked PAC Email Applauds Kyrsten Sinema's Attempts to Derail Reconciliation Bill

Ryan Grim / The Intercept
Leaked PAC Email Applauds Kyrsten Sinema's Attempts to Derail Reconciliation Bill Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, listens to witnesses during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on July 16, 2019 (photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

In a leaked email, No Labels’ director praised Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her “heroic efforts” on the infrastructure bill.

The dark-money group No Labels remains optimistic that it has been able to delink the bipartisan infrastructure bill away from the larger reconciliation package that includes the bulk of the Biden agenda, with the possibility of outright killing the bigger bill still in play, according to a note sent by the group’s executive director to its donors.

“It is now clear that the reconciliation package will be delinked in time from the infrastructure bill and will be less than $3.5 trillion (if it passes at all), in theory making support from House Republicans for the infrastructure bill more likely,” the email from Margaret White reads.

The message goes on to applaud Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her relentless fight on their behalf.

The reconciliation package includes major investments in combating climate change, support for child care and elder care, and expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, among a host of other policy advances. But major donors to No Labels stand to see significant tax hikes to offset those costs if the reconciliation package becomes law. The House Ways and Means Committee approved $2.9 trillion in new taxes on the rich over the next decade.

Progressives have insisted that both packages go together so that centrists don’t simply notch a victory on the bipartisan bill and then turn around and kill the more expansive piece of legislation. Centrists have claimed that progressive fears of such a betrayal are unfounded and that while they also support the Biden agenda, they simply want to approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill as quickly as possible. Those assurances lose credibility each time the financial backers of the centrist Democrats celebrate the possibility they may be able to kill reconciliation, even if they do so in semi-private.

In White’s email, she acknowledged that her group was short of the votes needed to pass the bipartisan legislation on Monday, because progressives have vowed to oppose it until the reconciliation package is on President Joe Biden’s desk. “The biggest warning sign is on the left, where the Progressive Caucus leadership continues to object to the delinkage and claims they have the votes to kill the infrastructure bill, leading them to suggest Speaker Pelosi should cancel the vote or risk embarrassment,” White wrote. “In the post-Brexit, post-Trump, free-agent, populist era in which we live now, don’t assume that Speaker Pelosi and President Biden can definitely deliver the votes on the left.”

“This only reinforces that No Labels is not only No Values but now also No Clue,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.

Biden hosted multiple groups of Democrats at the White House on Wednesday, meeting with an ideological range of his party colleagues. “The best way to help the American people is by passing the President’s Build Back Better Agenda, which includes the Build Back Better Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure agreement,” said Pocan, who was present for the meeting. “The President agreed and reiterated his position that we need to pass both to move America forward. The debates we’re having are not about progressives versus moderates, but it’s a fight between the special interests who don’t want to pay their fair share and making sure we build back better for the American people.” White did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted that she told the president during the meeting that a majority of her members — enough to sink the bill — would vote no if both pieces of his agenda were not finished.

The full text of the email from White is below.

Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 12:03 p.m.
Subject: State of Play Update

I wanted to share this note to provide both a state of play update on the critical infrastructure negotiations but also as a call to action for our community to reach out to Senator Sinema’s office and thank her for her heroic efforts in working to get this bill over the finish line. Please see below:

Days to promised infrastructure vote: 5

Vote count: well short of 218 public commitments

Latest news:

Mostly good!

* The infrastructure vote has been reaffirmed by the Democratic leadership for Monday (or perhaps Tuesday or later next week if the debate goes long).

* Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer seem determined to whip the vote to get the bill passed and have begun the process, making a strong argument for the substance and politics of the measure.

* The President is scheduled to meet in person at the White House today with House members to get them on board. Josh Gottheimer is expected to be among those there.

* It is now clear that the reconciliation package will be delinked in time from the infrastructure bill and will be less than $3.5 trillion (if it passes at all), in theory making support from House Republicans for the infrastructure bill more likely.

The biggest warning sign is on the left, where the Progressive Caucus leadership continues to object to the delinkage and claims they have the votes to kill the infrastructure bill, leading them to suggest Speaker Pelosi should cancel the vote or risk embarrassment.

In the post-Brexit, post-Trump, free-agent, populist era in which we live now, don’t assume that Speaker Pelosi and President Biden can definitely deliver the votes on the left.

To get to 218 votes, the Speaker and the President are going to have to keep a very high percentage of House progressives on board, while House Republicans will likely have to deliver more “yes” votes than currently exist.

All of this remains tied up in what the media continues to pay more attention to, which is the partisan standoff over the debt ceiling and a potential government shutdown. How that will impact getting the majority vote for infrastructure remains a mystery

Message/actions of the day:

* Support Senator Sinema by calling her office to show your encouragement: 202-224-4521.

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