Podesta: Democrats risk losing Congress over $3.5T spending plan

Former White House chief of staff John Podesta sent memos to Democratic lawmakers telling them they risk losing their Senate and House majorities if they fail to reach an agreement on their reconciliation package, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Hill.

“The historical trend makes it clear that Democrats will face severe headwinds next November, but nothing will guarantee a political reckoning faster than if the Democrats fail to pass anything,” Podesta wrote in his memo, which was dated Tuesday.

Podesta urged Democrats to come together to pass the reconciliation bill to tackle issues like climate change and assisting working families, noting the political fallout if they did not reach an agreement.

“Members in competitive districts ran on the promise that the days of political self-interest were over and that, instead, we had a new government that would deliver on behalf of the American people. If nothing gets done, those leaders will return to their constituents empty-handed,” Podesta wrote. 

“Republicans will have ample ammunition to skewer their opponents and Democrats will lose. Our majority, thin now, will be a thing of the past. But, more importantly, it will mean that Democrats have failed the American people.”

He warned progressives in the party that the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package price tag needs to be dialed back, saying that the bill will not be able to pass as currently constructed.

“The political reality is clear, given Democrats have no margin for error in the Senate and a limited margin in the House,” Podesta said in his memo. “We will not secure the full $3.5 trillion investment. It’s time for Democrats to unite in finding the path forward.”

Podesta, who is the founder and chairman for the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, also addressed the moderates in the party who have signaled more support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill than the reconciliation bill, saying that both pieces of legislation are going to pass or none at all and adding that “the prospect of neither is unconscionable.”

“It would signal a complete and utter failure of our democratic duty, and a reckless abdication of our responsibility. It would define our generation’s history and show that, when our time came, we failed, both for Americans now and in the years to come,” Podesta said in the memo.

The remarks come as the House is set to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday despite the fact that the $3.5 reconciliation package, which progressives hoped to pass in lockstep with the bipartisan bill, will likely not be finished.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key moderate in the Democratic caucus, signaled this month that he wanted Congress to take a “pause” on the reconciliation package, adding that he would not support the expedited timeline to pass it or its price tag. Axios reported earlier this week that Manchin might be seeking a pause on discussions until as late as 2022. 

Updated at 12:48 p.m.

Tags 2022 midterm elections bipartisan infrastructure bill Center for American Progress Congress Joe Manchin John Podesta reconciliation bill

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