Democrats are feuding with each other over everything from spending to border patrol tactics as time runs short on President Biden’s first-year agenda.
Dozens of progressive House Democrats are vowing to vote against Mr. Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a defection that would doom the measure.
Meanwhile, moderate Democrats in the House and the Senate want to pare down the president’s companion $3.5 trillion proposal for social safety net programs, and even then, it might not pass.
The White House is confronting numerous other headaches on specific issues, including progressive members of the House “Squad” forcing the defeat this week of $1 billion in aid for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
And the Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats can’t include their immigration changes in the larger spending bill, a move that would have enabled Democrats to approve it without any Republican support — probably the only way the proposal could have passed and appeased the progressive base.
A surge of illegal migrants mostly from Haiti is still out of control at the Texas border. Vice President Kamala Harris, the oft-maligned border czar, has called for an investigation of her own administration over border patrol agents on horseback who appeared to use reins to try to control some of the migrants.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still not under control and the administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan fresh in voters’ minds, Mr. Biden’s job approval rating fell to its lowest point yet — 43% — in Gallup’s tracking poll on Wednesday.
That’s a drop of 13 points since June, and even Ms. Harris now tops the president in approval, coming in at 49%.
Oh, and the federal government will hit its borrowing limit late next week, with no deal in sight for avoiding a shutdown and a possible default on Washington’s debts.
With deadlines in Congress looming next week to complete key legislation, the party’s internal disagreements raise the specter of Democrats failing to produce any real achievements heading into the 2022 midterms.
“There could be a moment in the coming week or two when it looks like the whole process could collapse,” Brian Gardner, chief Washington policy strategist for the investment banking firm Stifel, told investors in a note on Wednesday.
He said he believes Democrats and the White House will eventually pass scaled-down versions of the spending bills, although the “odds of a collapse of the two bills have increased in recent weeks as different camps within the Democratic Party have issued threats and ultimatums.”
Mr. Biden was holding meetings at the White House Wednesday with Democratic leaders and holdout progressives and moderates, including Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said he hopes the president is “the secret sauce” to work out a comprehensive deal.
Other progressives are despairing.
“Democrats only have 1 shot to save democracy and enact Biden’s agenda, but we have Manchin, Sinema, and some ‘moderates’ who’d much rather work for their personal interests and lobbyists, so the rest of us are screwed. What a tragedy,” tweeted Wajahat Ali, senior fellow at the progressive Western States Center.