President Biden took in the Congressional Baseball Game Wednesday night as he attempted to shore up support for a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that faces an uncertain future after another dramatic day on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had scheduled a vote on the legislation for Thursday, defying left-wing members of her conference who want a larger $3.5 trillion social spending plan to move through both houses of Congress first.
However, multiple lawmakers from both parties told The Post Wednesday night that they believed the infrastructure bill would not come up for a House vote as scheduled Thursday, handing at least a temporary victory to the Democrats’ progressive wing.
President Joe Biden attending the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on September 29, 2021.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Biden, who postponed a planned Wednesday trip to Chicago to focus on getting both proposals over the finish line in the House, arrived at Nationals Park in the top of the second inning. The game was briefly delayed as he acknowledged the crowd, though the cheers soon gave way to boos from Republicans sitting in the first base stands.
“Let’s play ball!” chanted some GOP fans, who may have suspected the president of trying to ice their starting pitcher, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.).
Some activists displayed banners urging the passage of the larger spending bill. One read, “Our lives are not a game[.] Pass 3.5T”. Another warned, more bluntly: “Democrats don’t f— this up.”
Biden visiting the Republican dugout during the game.AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Biden eventually made his way into the third base dugout, where he chatted with members of the Democratic team. As the president schmoozed, Fox Sports 1’s cameras caught Pelosi in an intense cellphone conversation in the first row.
In the top of the third inning, Pelosi approached the dugout and exchanged a few brief words with Biden — with whom she and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had met in the Oval Office earlier in the evening. Before the bottom of the third, the president crossed the field and greeted Republican lawmakers in the first base dugout. Biden left the park about an hour after he arrived.
Biden’s visit to the game comes amid tension within the Democrat party over the infrastructure and social spending bill.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Some lawmakers reportedly believe the infrastructure bill won’t be voted on this week as it was originally scheduled.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement that he would not support the $3.5 trillion bill, calling it “the definition of fiscal insanity.” With the Senate split 50-50, Manchin’s ongoing opposition is a fatal blow to Democratic hopes to pass the spending plan without GOP support.
“Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March,” Manchin said. “At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question — how much is enough?”
In response, Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a leader of the House progressive bloc, vowed that the infrastructure bill — which Manchin played a key role in negotiating — would be defeated if it came up for a vote Thursday.
“After that statement [from Manchin], we probably have even more people willing to vote no,” Jayapal told reporters.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attending the game.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
Pelosi, who boasted to reporters last month that “I don’t go to the floor and lose,” publicly stuck to her plan to hold the vote Thursday. However, she added that she hoped to have more clarity on the situation following Wednesday night’s game.
A moderate Republican House member told The Post that between 22 and 24 GOPers were expected to support the $1.2 trillion bill as of Wednesday night, despite instructions from party leadership to oppose it.
However, in light of progressives’ newfound determination to hold the measure hostage, that number likely would not be enough.