Obstructionist Democrats jeopardize critical Biden legislation

Ryan Ehrhart, Opinion Editor

For months now, the Democrats have been trying to pass both their budget reconciliation and infrastructure package simultaneously. Progressives want a bold spending plan and moderates want to score a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but neither faction is willing to have one without their own. “Stop ours? We’ll torpedo yours.”

With a 50-50 split in the Senate, the lack of cooperation from some moderate Democrats jeopardizes everything during a pivotal moment. 

The $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan would be the cornerstone bill of Biden’s entire presidency. Its contents have been greatly watered down so it can be “bipartisan,” but it still contains important efforts on healthcare, childcare, physical infrastructure, and climate. One provision in it is a clean-electricity program to eliminate emissions from power plants by 2035.

Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, says such a program “makes no sense at all,” and thinks the idea of eliminating fossil fuels is “very, very disturbing.” 

Unlike most Democratic voters, Manchin has historically been opposed to climate change legislation. A big reason for this is that it’s simply not in his financial interest. Keith McCoy, the director for federal relations at ExxonMobil — the largest US gas company — was recently caught on video detailing just how Manchin is in the pocket of his company.

​​”Joe Manchin, I talk to his office every week,” McCoy said, before calling Manchin “the kingmaker,” denoting how crucial Manchin’s obstruction is in curtailing any liberal climate efforts.

Public record shows that Manchin has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbyist efforts and campaign contributions from fossil fuel corporations. It’s no surprise at all why he should be so hesitant to support climate legislation when it’s so profitable.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, has been in hot water all year after giving a gleeful thumbs down to Biden’s $15 minimum wage effort and refusing to help strike down the filibuster.

Unlike her partner-in-obstruction Manchin, Sinema has failed to articulate exactly what changes to the infrastructure bill would make her a yes vote – bringing into question how much she even cares whether or not it passes. It seems like she and others like her would be fine to watch both bills go down in flames as long as progressives don’t get their way at all.

Sinema is currently busy doing high-dollar fundraisers with some organizations most interested in killing the bills. Some observe this to mean she doesn’t plan to run for reelection and is instead scoping out future career opportunities.

Whether born out of blatant corruption or plain disinterest, some elected Democrats are too preoccupied to adhere to the wishes of their constituents and the objectives of their own party. Their behavior not only withholds crucial legislation from the people but also worsens Democrats’ already dismal chances in the 2022 midterm elections.