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As everyone knows, the Democrats are trying to move a $3.5 billion spending bill through the House and Senate. They really wanted to have it out of the Senate by this week, so they could line it up with a promised vote on the infrastructure bill - but obviously that's not happening. The negotiations over the larger bill have exposed some fault lines between the party's various factions.The bill has a serious branding problem, of course. It's an omnibus assemblage of a whole passel of Democratic priorities - so unlike most other big bills (like the health care bill, or even the infrastructure bill) there's no ready label for it that identifies what's in it. So most of the conversation has defaulted to calling it the reconciliation bill (after the procedure) or the spending bill (after what most of it does).I think because of that framing, the discussion about what's causing the Democrats heartache has been also cast in terms of dollar amounts - that the division between the moderates and progressives is over how much to spend, and maybe a bit about inflation. That's probably an issue, but I think it ignores the fact that if the spending bill dies, it's likely not to be because of spending. I think it will be over climate.Progressives want this bill to be a major, significant piece of climate legislation. It has a lot of spending and revenue-raising provisions that are all designed to push industry into cleaner sources of fuel. And they have insisted, in no uncertain terms, that they will not support a bill that isn't a big climate bill.And there's no way Joe Manchin supports that.Manchin's doing his best to avoid spiking the infrastructure bill over that, trying to raise issues concerning overall spending levels and inflation and doing his best to delay a semi-final form of the Senate bill making its way around. But at the end of the day, no matter what the top-line dollar amount on the bill ends up being, the climate provisions that Manchin would be willing to vote for are going to infuriate the progressive wing beyond belief.Because the progressive caucus isn't going to kill the infrastructure bill over a difference between $3.5T and $2.9T or $2.75T or whatever, I think that the Senate is trying to keep eyes on the topline figure as the source of disagreement. Because that's a solveable disagreement. So if that really were the thing that would kill the bill(s), there would be lots of hope.But I think climate's really the sticking point. Maybe Medicare drug negotiation, but that's a dollars issue at heart. Really, I don't think Manchin ever signs off on a bill that has a big climate provision, and that's what's going to be the sticking point at the end.Albaby
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