At the end of last week, Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending agenda got a lifeline from 13 Republicans in the House who voted for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that paves the way for the massive budget reconciliation bill, currently thought to include more than $1.75 trillion in new spending and unknown provisions regarding amnesty and other topics allegedly related to a federal budget.
Enough members of the House Progressive Caucus voted against the infrastructure bill to protest its separation from the budget bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi would never have brought it to the floor for a vote without enough Republicans crossing over to guarantee her a win on the vote.
One of the key Republicans to vote for the bill was Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), who said that the only reason for Republicans to oppose the infrastructure bill is “politics.” She overlooks the inflationary crisis that faces the country and is getting worse by the day.
The recent report of producer price inflation of 8.6 percent year over year is the most significant increase the country has ever seen. Skyrocketing energy prices and the continuing supply chain crisis portent even greater inflation and shortages soon. Malliotakis and a few other Republicans now somehow claim that what the country needs is even more spending.
The infrastructure bill includes billions upon billions in spending on projects that require significant stretching to fit the traditional definition of “infrastructure.” But even if the bill only covered things that could truly be defined as infrastructure, the spending levels contemplated by the bill hardly seem to be prudent given the current state of the economy.
As a matter of politics, the Republican enabling of Pelosi and company means that the massive budget reconciliation bill has been granted new energy. The bargaining chip that Republicans held to hedge against rushing the reconciliation bill through without even a budgetary score from the Congressional Budget Office has been cast away with absolutely nothing coming back in return.
While Malliotakis may justly face a GOP primary challenge next year, several other Republicans who pitched in for Pelosi are retiring or are likely victims of losing through redistricting.
Suppose Republicans expect to have a “red wave” midterm election season in 2022. In that case, they should try to find a way to distance the party from the “crossover” Republicans who bailed out Pelosi in her moment of need as soon as possible.