The Progressive Caucus within the Democratic Party, now taking up almost half of Democratic seats in the House, has been consistently pushing for President Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar social infrastructure bill to get passed, while two conservative Senators within the party have been jilting the effort successfully until now. Over the weekend, it transpired that the party might be reaching a consensus, however. According to media reports, an agreement over a slightly less ambitious social infrastructure bill could be reached shortly, which would first lift progressives’ blockade of a smaller, bipartisan physical infrastructure bill of $1.2 trillion and then would allow the main contender to progress as well.
While the ability of the two Democratic conservatives in question, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) to block the vote stems from the Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the Senate, the general idea of a large number of progressives pitted against a smaller number of conservative Democrats is actually exemplary of the current state of the party’s base.
According to surveys by Gallup, the share of self-identifying Democrats in the U.S. that describe their political ideology as liberal rose from 30 percent in 2001 to 51 percent in 2021. During the same time frame, the share of conservative Democrats fell from 25 percent to 12 percent, while that of moderate Democrats fell from 46 percent to 37 percent.
If the blockades within the Democratic Party get resolved, the bill would normally still face Senate filibuster as the Democrat’s majority in the chamber is below the 60 votes needed to resolve a filibuster. This is why Democrats are planning to pass the social infrastructure bill as part of the budget reconciliation process, which cannot be filibustered.