As Biden’s big bill moves forward, Pelosi’s big legacy moves forward too

Deep in the grueling negotiations over President Biden’s great domestic policy agenda, when it seemed like the bickering between Democrats would never end, President Nancy Pelosi let everyone unveil a little secret.

“This,” she told reporters quite publicly a while ago, “is the fun part. “

The grind of legislation – treacherous for some, a sport for others, and often unsuccessful in slow Congress – is where Pelosi resides, exerting a relentless will to push the package of around 2,000 forward. billion dollars from Biden on Friday across the House, now sending him to the Senate.

The House vote, which only one Democrat opposed, gives momentum to Biden’s signing legislation after months of start-up and shutdown negotiations and provides a down payment on the party’s campaign pledge to deliver skills in government and put it at the service of the Americans.

And for Pelosi, who burst into the House hall early Friday to close the vote after a session that lasted almost all night, the result marks a career milestone and strengthens her legacy not only as the first woman. orator in the country, but among its most powerful – the one working to secure massive federal investments that Biden and others have likened to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

“Congratulations,” Biden told her during a phone call she took in the gold room next to the floor of the house as the final tally arrived.

Friday’s vote was never a certainty. Final action in some ways crept up against lawmakers after weeks of frantic negotiations, several false starts and high-profile setbacks that delayed and threatened to derail the entire company.

First, there was the difficult process of compiling the 2,135-page Build Back Better Act, with its sweeping proposals to expand government support to help families pay for health care and child care. and reduce the price of prescription drugs, as well as new efforts to tackle climate change.

Then, faced with a solid wall of Republican opposition, Democrats had to decide if they could actually approve the bill on their own, engaging in multiple rounds of private meetings and public discussions between centrist factions. and progressive.

Any misstep along the way could sideline a congressional leader, especially one without the political courage to push and get lawmakers to align. His immediate predecessors, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, struggled to lead Republicans, and both retired and gave up the hammer.

Pelosi, who represented San Francisco in Congress for more than 30 years, not only has the stomach for such heart-wrenching discussions, she has also turned the perils of legislation into political opportunities, showcasing the wings of the party. “Diversity is our strength” is one of his maxims.

And when she’s heard and seen enough, she stiffens her spine and walks forward, relying on Pelosi’s other maxim – “Unity is our power” – to come to a resolution. Meeting privately with House leaders on Monday evening, she signaled it was time to move.

Pelosi told them there had been “a bit too much drama for my taste,” according to a Democratic aide familiar with the private meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it.

The House had previously approved the related $ 1,000 billion infrastructure package, a highway bridges and broadband measure favored by centrist lawmakers after poor election performance in Virginia and New Jersey served as a doorbell. alarm to Democrats. Now, according to Pelosi’s strategy, it was time to materialize the commitment to the larger vision of Biden preferred by progressives.

“It’s been a long road because, you know, the impact we’re trying to have is huge,” Rep. Andy Kim (DN.J.) said on Friday.

“It’s always complicated, I mean, when you have people representing all corners of this country, there will always be complexity, but it’s the art of governing,” Kim said.

Pelosi has been here before. Ten years ago, she led House Democrats to pass the Affordable Care Act, a year-long effort that consumed Congress early in Barack Obama’s first term and helped erase the election. of the party in the 2010 midterm elections.

Pelosi lost the speaker’s hammer after Republicans regained control of the House in 2011, and Republicans today expect a repeat in 2022 as they rack up criticism over the draft. Biden’s law as an exaggerated big government.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who is expected to become president if Democrats lose power next year, set the tone in a vitriolic and grieving nighttime speech against Biden, Democrats and Pelosi in especially, as he berated her leadership and wished her retirement.

If he sounded “angry,” McCarthy said, it was because he was. His more than eight-hour speech set a new record, beating the one set a few years ago by Pelosi. But his protest did not stop the vote.

Pelosi responded with one of the most politically biting strategies in her arsenal – she ignored it.

Early Friday morning, Pelosi gave a sunny speech in sharp contrast to McCarthy’s gloomy mood.

“Under this dome, for centuries, members of Congress have stood exactly where we are to pass legislation of extraordinary significance in the history of our nation and for the future of our nation,” said Pelosi.

The Capitol cadre reminds lawmakers, Pelosi said, that “we are part of history, that our words and actions will be set against the judgment of history, and that we are part of the long and honorable legacy of our democracy.” .

Democrats cheered the passage on the floor of the House chanting “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy!” while brooding Republicans shouted at one point, “Hey, hey, goodbye,” some mock the aisle.

A newcomer to Congress, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Said the Bill’s free preschool programs for all 3 and 4 year olds, along with affordable health care options, are priorities that policymakers have been trying to achieve for decades. .

“We are responding to needs that have been around for a long, long time,” Bourdeaux said after the vote. “People have to realize that every other developed country in the world has a lot of these advantages, and it’s time for us to have them too.”

She added: “We have really accomplished something amazing.”

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