Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, stated on Wednesday that this week's high-stakes, unresolved, and unpredictable Capitol Hill drama was like an episode of a television show.
A reporter was quickly asked, What television show? and asked: How can you do this?
If something good happens, maybe The West Wing may be the case. She said, "If not, she may Veep."
She was talking about the possibility that a key component of Joe Biden's agenda, the roughly $1.2 trillion infrastructure cost, will even make it to the House floor on Thursday, as planned. The fate of that piece of legislation, already passed by a bipartisan majority of the Senate, depends on whether Democrats can reach if they reach an agreement on 'a much bigger $3.5 trillion package called the Build Back Better Act, which would expand the social safety net and provide huge outlays to combat and counter climate change.
Democrats want to vote in the Senate for the latter piece of legislation to be a success. But two moderates, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen, Kyrsten Sinema (R-AZ), are blazing at the price tag and other important aspects. Progressives, on the other hand, pledge to stand up to the infrastructure package unless they get a guarantee on signing the Build Back Better Act.
It's also a party standoff, with the other hand, in completing en route to the emirates.
But thats not the immediate drama, but itll be the case. On Thursday night, government funding runs out, so there will be another shutdown if no congressional action is implemented. Congress will pass a bill in time, according to many observers.
What will happen with the debt limit is far less certain. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the government will go out of cash reserves by Oct. 18 unless the borrowing threshold is raised. If not, the United States risks defaulting, something the country has never done, and a scenario that economists believe will send the economy into free fall.
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he knows that the United States can't default, but if a strategy called reconciliation, senate Minority Leaders must bear all responsibility for raising the debt limit and connecting it to their $3.5 trillion package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) refuses to add a debt limit increase to the legislation, calling it risky and time-consuming while blasting Republicans for failing to score political points when the US credit rating is at stake. Schumer proposed an alternative scenario, a stand-alone bill to raise the debt ceiling that would pass only with the votes of Democrats, but McConnell refused. They barely looked at each other on the Senate floor as they explained their views on Tuesday.
The polarized Congress hasn't been here before, but some veteran Capitol Hill reporters claim they've never seen it in the same way before.
Ive covered a lot of these debt limit fights dating back to 2011, Jake Sherman, co-founder of Punchbowl News, tweeted. This may be the worst/scariest scenario.
How does the average viewer see all the urgency? Maybe not. It's a busy week in Washington, but the policy jargon being thrown about, with terms like CR, debt limit, reconciliation, and even infrastructure, is over the heads of many, even plenty of editors less interested in the mechanics of what is going on and more interested amenable. Is the government going to shut down? Will the United States default?
When it comes to the Biden agenda, there has been so much focus on Manchin and Sinema, two colorful personalities that have been ruthlessly trailed by a slew of reporters but have yet to publicly disclose what kind of Build Back Better/reconciliation bill they are willing to accept. Manchin has been ever accessible; Sinema less so; but she did have a sharp reply on Wednesday to ostracized progressives who are frustrated that they dont know where she is in all of this. He asked what she would say to progressive leaders who don't realize where her is.
She said, "I'm in the Senate, and I've gone in."
Biden has been meeting with both of them and talking with others, in a move that Psaki characterized as an effort to achieve esquirement or to close it. He finished Wednesday with a visit to the congressional baseball game, whose activities took on ominous importance when the president spoke with both parties about tens of thousands of people.
Nobody has predicted much of anything so far, even though it's all being considered as a make-or-break moment for Democrats, the Biden agenda, and the country, albeit all incredibly difficult to explain.
Woody Harrelson, who is in town to shoot HBO's limited series The White House Plumbers, arrived at the scene in the middle of all of this on Wednesday. With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he was seen at the Capitol.
Later, Pelosi was asked if she was concerned that she wouldn't have the vote for the infrastructure bill passed on Thursday.
She added, "One hour at a time"