Democrats Divide On Budget Legislation

September will make or break them on this.

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Chad Pegram of FNC sees legislative problems coming up for the Democrats this month. He is far from the only one who holds that opinion. Joe Biden may not be awake enough to notice.

Pegram: It’s a cliché in Washington to say that one should never let a crisis go to waste. But politics are politics.

And, as cynical as it sounds, that means you should never let a crisis go to waste. Hurricane Ida spun through the Gulf Coast. Slashed up the South. The post-tropical depression then pelted the Northeast with historic rainfall, spawning deadly and unprecedented flooding.

President Biden, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans are remolding Hurricane Ida as justification for Congress to approve the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democrats will certainly use Ida as a reason to approve the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” measure. So it’s natural that the president deploy that phrase, in the aftermath of a monster storm, in a region which needs so much built back. “This isn’t about being a Democrat or Republican,” said Biden during a stop in Louisiana Friday. “We have to build back better than it was before.”

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Tucked into these bills are plans for bridges and highways, high-speed internet for rural areas, money to modernize the energy grid. Members of the Biden administration suggested that the bills could help the country weather future storms which are increasingly fierce, violent and costly.

“We have very old infrastructure across this country. We need to work on rebuilding it. Building it back stronger so it can be more resilient to these future threats,” said FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell on “Fox News Sunday.” And it’s just not Democrats. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., played a key role designing the bipartisan infrastructure package.

“If anything points out the importance of hardening the grid, improving swear and water, flood mitigation and coastal restoration, it is this storm,” said Cassidy on Fox. It’s possible Democrats (and yes, Republicans) could push to tack on immediate hurricane relief to the infrastructure bill or the larger, catch-all spending plan.

“We should move this as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Troy Carter, D-La., en route to a meeting with Biden to tour hurricane damage. “We should advance the issues of the infrastructure bill rather than get caught up in the semantics of calling it hard or soft infrastructure. It’s about making Louisiana and Americans’ lives better.” This is all going to come down to one month: September.

“It’s a challenging month because there are so many pressing issues on the agenda for Democrats,” said Darrell West of the Brookings Institution. “And they’re tough issues, where moderates are fighting with progressives. Biden’s approval rating has fallen. It’s going to be hard to keep Democrats together during September.”

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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