The Mod Squad's Showdown With Pelosi

[ Posted Monday, August 23rd, 2021 – 16:09 UTC ]

I have to begin by clearly stating I did not personally come up with that new moniker on my own, but I am indeed going to start using it from this point on. I think I saw it first in a Politico article over the weekend, but I have to say as a snappy reference "Mod Squad" works on a number of different levels. First, baby boomer nostalgia. For those of you who are too young to remember, this was the name of a tragically-hip television show from way back. Second, it creates a nice counterbalance to "The Squad" (of progressive House Democrats). And third, it coins a new usage for "Mod," in this case a shortening of "moderate." All around, that's pretty good for a new political label, so my hat is indeed off to whomever came up with it.

Pedantic praise aside, though, the Mod Squad of nine conservative Democrats ("moderate" is a misnomer, really) is threatening to destroy any chances Democrats have of passing a huge swath of President Joe Biden's political agenda. Completely tanking any progress would almost certainly guarantee Republicans take back control of the House (and perhaps the Senate too) in next year's midterm election. So it would be partisan suicide to blow everything up. But the Mod Squad does not seem to care. This could be a rather large problem for all Democrats.

There are two bills which, together, make good on dozens of campaign promises, which not only Joe Biden but also a whole lot of other Democrats campaigned on last year. Passing both these measures would mean a historic legislative achievement and a breathtaking expansion of the ability of the federal government to help average Americans live their lives -- on the order of the New Deal or the Great Society. Opportunities like this don't come along very often, in other words. Even "once in a generation" actually understates the importance.

The first bill is the bipartisan deal worked out on infrastructure projects. This bill has already passed the Senate, where an astonishing 19 Republicans actually voted for it. The second bill is in a nebulous state. The budget reconciliation rules require two separate bills -- one that lays out the size of the bill (which must pass before the second bill even gets drawn up), and a second bill which fills in all the details. The budget reconciliation bill won't actually become reality until the second bill makes it through both houses of Congress and gets to Biden's desk.

Where we now stand is that the Senate has done its work by passing both the infrastructure bill and the first of the budget reconciliation bills (the overview). Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back into session so they could vote on these two and move the process along. The Senate committees can't start drafting their bill until after the first reconciliation bill passes. Pelosi has said from the very beginning that the two bills must be tied together in "two-track" fashion. This is important, because it is exactly what forced a compromise already over in the Senate.

The conservative Democrats (again, falsely called "moderates" in the media) really wanted the hard infrastructure bill, but they really have no appetite for the "human infrastructure" spending in the reconciliation bill. The progressives had exactly the opposite stance -- they wanted the reconciliation bill, but thought the infrastructure bill was far too small on its own to do much good.

Since progressives might be tempted to vote for reconciliation but not the infrastructure bill, and vice versa (with the conservatives), the two votes have to happen almost simultaneously. This forces both sides to support the other side's priorities, which assures everyone that it all will become reality.

The Mod Squad is threatening to blow up this two-track process. They are demanding (there simply is no other word for it) that Pelosi hold the vote on the infrastructure bill now, or they won't even consider voting for the first of the reconciliation bills -- which would grind the entire reconciliation process to a halt (since neither the Senate nor the House could start drafting the final bill).

The progressives, on the other hand, are threatening that if the infrastructure bill is voted on now, they will not vote for it. They have more leverage -- there are around 100 progressive Democrats, versus the nine Mod Squad members who signed a threatening letter to Pelosi last week. But Pelosi only has a razor-thin margin in the House -- if no Republican supports it she can only lose three Democratic votes or any bill will fail.

Pelosi, so far, has stuck to her guns. Her position is that she's going to wait until the second reconciliation bill passes (which could happen as soon as September or could be delayed further) before bringing up the infrastructure bill for a vote. This way, both bills will arrive on Biden's desk for his signature on the same day. Biden himself has endorsed Pelosi's two-track strategy. But the Mod Squad is threatening to derail both tracks, really.

Call it a hostage crisis, if you will. The Mod Squadders are complaining that the infrastructure bill is "being held hostage" to passage of the reconciliation bill. They want the infrastructure bill to pass first, so that they can later vote against the reconciliation bill (likely because it raises taxes on corporations... again, these are conservative Democrats). Their bill will pass but the progressive effort will fail. That's their preferred outcome. The progressives aren't about to let them get away with this, though, and have vowed to tank the infrastructure bill if it comes to a solo vote. Hostage-taking abounds, in other words, on both sides of the debate.

This all risks the entire outcome being nothing put on Biden's desk. These two bills, to a large extent, will be the entire Democratic Party's campaign platform for next year: "You put us in charge and look what we got done for you!" The stakes simply couldn't be higher.

As of this writing, Pelosi has scheduled a special closed-door session of the House Democrats tonight, to hash this all out and try to figure out a path forward -- or whether a path forward even exists at this point. One would expect it to be a rather contentious meeting. Neither side has budged an inch, so far.

Scheduled afterwards will be an evening vote on a procedural matter, which would allow three bills to move towards getting a final vote: the infrastructure bill, the reconciliation overview bill, and a voting rights bill (thrown in for maximum political embarrassment value, for any Democrat who votes against this entirely procedural matter). Then at some point, perhaps tomorrow, Pelosi had planned on holding the reconciliation vote, to get the whole process of writing the actual details into a final draft underway. Pelosi will then hang onto the infrastructure bill until the Senate sends over the final reconciliation bill. At this point, both will be voted on and placed side-by-side on Biden's desk.

That is the plan, at any rate. It could derail in a number of different ways. If it falls apart, it does not bode well for Democratic chances in the midterms, President Biden's legacy, or the American people. As I said, the stakes couldn't be higher. There will be some sort of showdown in that closed-door meeting tonight. The whole thing may play out over the next 24 hours or so. So stay tuned, things are about to get very interesting.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


25 Comments on “The Mod Squad's Showdown With Pelosi”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But the Mod Squad does not seem to care. This could be a rather large problem for all Democrats.

    Replace 'all Democrats' with ALL AMERICANS and you'd be on to something ... :)

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    People who can't build anything show how important and powerful they are because they can destroy something.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Ah well, back to Kabuki-Theater-for-Blue-Dogs again.*sigh*

    Hey Elizabeth I sat down the bed to cuddle with my Husky Betty and the next thing you know I wake up and it's 02-something. Sorry I wussed out on you. Not getting my full Sunday Night Canadian* Music Appreciation Festival and Dance Party

    *and other countries

    fix has left an unease in my soul.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I expect that if I go watch some Rush videos I'll be okay. Can sleep tonight, and stuff.

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    This all risks the entire outcome being nothing put on Biden's desk. These two bills, to a large extent, will be the entire Democratic Party's campaign platform for next year: "You put us in charge and look what we got done for you!"

    And that's what's going to push both over the finish line. Neither wing of the Democratic Party can afford to blow this.

    As a bonus the passage of both should at least somewhat grease the rails for the We the People and John Lewis Acts.

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Joe got us (mostly) out of Afghanistan but clearly didn't stick the landing. But I think this is his only significant blunder amidst a ton of goodness (vacs, the economy, competent government, foreign policy etc.)

    But again, he acted on the consensus conventional wisdom. Also, please note that if Afghani evacuations had begun months ago that would 1-panic the Afghani government (and hastened it's fall,) and 2- leave our troops without translators etc for the intervening months. So that was never in the cards.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think I feel better, now ... :)

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    A little Swing on This.


  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I didn't think this up but we should change the Legislative process so that,

    Once the President receives a bill s/he* would have two calendar weeks to sign the bill. If s/he signs it, great. If s/he vetos it, fine. If s/he does nothing then the bill automatically passes as though signed.

    This gives our President something besides the binary choice of either signing or vetoing a bill. It offers a "I'm not crazy about this but I won't stop it" option. To send messages and stuff.

    *As far as I know I did think up "s/he" as a quick way to say "he or she." I pronounce it "shuh HEE." Your welcome

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yep, I suppose "Mod Squad" isn't as harsh as "DINOs."

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oh well, G'Nite everybody.

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    NOW IF JOE passes both infrastructures along with the For the People & John Lewis Acts,

    1- "I'll be so impressed I'll be as impressed as ten Liberals!"

    2- Among other things it will hopefully affirm the notion that if you want pro quality governance you need professional politicians to run the show, thus hopefully dissuading folks like Oprah and Sean Hannity from running for anything

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    YES! To all of that, hopefully!

    It Can Happen

  14. [14] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Did anyone see the latest from NASA?

    They sent Ingenuity on it's longest and highest flight to the top of Mons Tarus Excretus and they captured evidence of life up there in the form of hieroglyphs.

    Scientists think they spell out DonQui.

  15. [15] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Oh DonQui...

    Still waiting on your EIN... (We will completely ignore that I have spent the past year setting up drive through testing sites, mass vax sites, expanded various meals on wheels programs and helped increase food bank food access all of which require me to check out the NP entities I am working with and I know how to do it without an EIN before I hand them money.) It isn't required to discuss One Dumbman, we can do that anytime. It is required to prove the veracity of your claim that you are a registered NP.

    It's simple, provide proof that you are in fact a registered NP and we will be able to say " that DonQui looks to be on the up and up, it's too bad no one wants to buy into his fatally flawed idea to get money out of politics."


    Don't provide any proof that you are a registered NP and we can all ask "Why on God's green earth would I discuss how to get One Dumbman off the ground when it's "leader" can't even tell the truth about being a registered NP."

    Like I said it's simple.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Nice work there, goode trickle.

    BACK to Afghanistan, the West ought to buy our Afghani allies their freedom. Pay them thousands for each man, woman and child that wants out and has a legitimate connection to the US, UN, NATO and whomever.

    Wartard, a guy that y'all absolutely should check out, said "Money is honorable in the desert." An example of this being true immediately springs to mind: remember when Obama resurged us into Iraq and got the Shia western half of the country to fight on our bribing them massively? When the money and the American presence went away they all went home and ISIS filled the power vacuum.

    This is a win-win solution!

    The West -- which has done so much damage for two decades -- gets to provide millions to the Taliban to help them fix their country. Good for all concerned, as the West gets to undo some of the mess (good for the soul) and it certainly benefits the Afghani people.

    Such aid will facilitate decent rather than abysmal relations with them, which can only help in the future vis a vis say, the Taliban no longer hosting al-Queda type terrorists.

    This will also give the West time to properly vet and evacuate our Afghani allies, preferably in-country. And it spares the Taliban of having to murder thousands of their own countrymen in retribution, which would surely be a terrible way to launch their new Afghanistan.


  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I can see that happening.

    The Taliban control the whole country and they need lost of foreign aid to actually run the country.

    Foreign aid won't be forthcoming until the Tabiban prove through their actions that they will respect international rules and norms.

    This might be a reasonable way to circumvent the August 31 deadline.

  18. [18] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yes, remaining in Afghanistan to process evacuees as the guests of the new Afghani government would work for both sides.

    Even though they defeated yet another foreign invader the Taliban need foreign aid to run the country as well as at least some diplomatic capabilities with the rest of the world. The better our relations are with each other, the more both sides get what they want.

    And don't forget, an isolated Taliban could go ahead and shut down female participation in education, employment and society in general. An engaged Taliban would likely be very careful about doing such thing.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, let's not give the Taliban too much credit, sorry, for understanding all of this or for being capable of changing their ways, just yet.

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Naw, it doesn't matter that they're "the fanatical Taliban." Like anybody who just finally won a Civil War, they want to maximize their chances of
    post-war success. There are super smart people amongst the Taliban, just like everywhere. Don't fool yourself, Elizabeth.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Fool myself? Hardly.

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    they may change their ways, but they won't change their beliefs - which are both fundamentalist and fundamental.


  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    don's right - why are you wasting your time?

    semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit.

    instead of trying to show why he is being wrong or foolish, you should be out getting yourself some pie.


  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ways and beliefs - that's what I was talking about, Joshua.

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    couldn't possibly agree more!

    besides, that particular kind of back and forth must be infinitely boring for any newcomers testing the waters here and, if I were one of them checking in here, I'd check out pretty soon.

    We need some new blood here, so ...

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