WASHINGTON — On Wednesday night in September, as President Joe Biden backslapped in the Republican dugout during the annual congressional baseball game, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat nearby, calm-faced and waving her finger while speaking into her cellphone, the top of her party. It was on the verge of collapse as a legislative priority.
At the other end of the line, Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.VA, was a key swing vote on Biden’s broader social policy bill, and Pelosi, sitting in the VIP section behind the dugout in National Park, was trying to persuade him to vote. Include the $2.1 trillion in spending and climate change provisions he deemed required by law.
In a moment captured by C-SPAN cameras that went viral, Pelosi became agitated because, according to sources familiar with the call, Pelosi told her he couldn’t accept more than $1.5 trillion — and apparently Was ready to provide a document. out of their parameters for the package, the benchmark that House Democrats were struggling to see.
The call reflected that Pelosi’s crucial role in shepherding Biden’s agenda on Capitol Hill extends far beyond the House, which is her primary responsibility, and into the Senate, where she engages in quiet and less-attentive conversations with key lawmakers. engaged, those who have the power to kill. package or induce it into law.
Her efforts – full of challenges and littered with near-death experiences for the bill – finally paid off on Friday with the House pass of a $2.2 trillion social policy and climate change package.
Along the way, Pelosi, known for delivering legislative victories in difficult situations, was repeatedly forced to back down from a floor showdown on the bill as she called for a caucus to unite feudal liberal and liberal factions. Work done. An important but less-seen part of his act was ousting a pair of Democratic holdouts in Arizona’s Senate, Manchin and Kirsten Cinema, who were opposed to key elements of Biden’s plan and whatever delicate deal Pelosi had to offer. had the power to maintain it. was able to strike.
It was only after her call with Manchin at a baseball game that Pelosi discovered that the West Virginian’s demands were contained in a sort of temporary contract she gave to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y. and the leader of the majority, at the end of July. The document, which was signed by both men, was kept secret for months—including his.
“I’d love to know,” Pelosi said on Friday, describing how she felt blind. “However, it was what it was.”
Manchin’s insistence on reducing the cost of the package threw a wrench in Pelosi’s plan to move the monumental social policy bill quickly, instead making it through a series of annoying twists and turns by Friday morning. She finally managed to pass it when the chain shipped through.
That still isn’t complete, with the Senate now getting a chance to reshape the measure in hopes of sending it back for final House approval and Biden’s signature. Munchkin is still calling for major changes, such as the closure of a new four-week paid family and medical leave program, which Pelosi has made a top priority.
But in the weeks since his call, Manchin has expressed an openness to privately adopting a costly plan he initially insisted on, and the speaker now says he is confident the measure will be approved by the House. Most of the Senate will remain intact.
“They want to accelerate this or that, and it’s a conversation,” Pelosi said of the Senate. “But 90-something percent of that bill is that.”
Given the unanimous Republican opposition and deep Democratic divisions over the package, the initial approval of the legislation in the House was a major achievement in itself. And it came with whispers in the corridors of the Capitol that lawmakers no longer fear Pelosi as much as they were before as he is believed to be nearing the end of his term.
Finally, as she did with the financial bailout in 2008, the Obama-era stimulus plan in 2009, and the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Pelosi found a way to win when it looked like she might lose. This time, he did so with a bill that includes history-making initiatives for environmental and adequate health care, child care, family vacations and educational programs that he and his Democratic allies have sought for decades.
Pelosi, 81, admitted on Friday that it was a legacy piece of legislation, even though he was unwilling to entertain questions about his future.
“We have to pass it, and then we have to see that I have an almost religious experience of appreciating it,” Pelosi said in his Capitol office, not long after the vote to approve the bill, which will take until Friday. There was delay. Morning by an eight-hour angry stemwinder from the Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. “But it’s a big deal.”
While his main responsibility was wrangling in the House, Pelosi devoted much of his time to munchkin and cinema, who have the power to thwart the deal in an equally divided Senate if they balk.
Pelosi has ties to both. She is bonded with Munchkin, who, like Pelosi, grew up in a political family, on their shared Italian heritage and Catholicism and their work on health and pension benefits for coal miners, by a miner’s statue in their office. Representation that has been gifted to him by Munchkin. , When Pelosi wanted to send Munchkin a message about voting rights this year, he sent it to former West Virginia Senate leader Robert C. Bird, whom Manchin often cited as a guiding star. Trey, who is hammered in appreciation for Pelosi’s fundraising work to give the Democratic Senate a majority in 1987, was reminiscent of the speaker’s past relationship with his predecessor for Manchin.
“I thought he should see it,” Pelosi said with a laugh.
Pelosi knew cinema as an activist in Arizona even before she was elected to the House, where they developed mutual respect and rapport. It was the warning signals from Cinema in late September that led Pelosi to undertake the delicate task of separating the social policy bill from a bipartisan infrastructure measure that had already passed the Senate with Cinema as lead author. Had done it
The Progressives were adamant that they would only support the Public Works Bill when they were assured that Senate Democrats, particularly Manchin and Cinema, were committed to voting for the Social Policy Bill – an assurance that was not, and still does not exist.
With the vote deadline approaching, Pelosi opened a back channel to the cinema through former Representative Joe Kennedy III, a friend of Cinema’s who entered the House with him in 2013.
He reported back that the cinema was ready to abandon the social spending bill altogether if it did not see a way for the House to proceed on the public works measure. In response, Pelosi sent a letter to her aides on September 26 saying the House would move the infrastructure bill the next day, a plan that has vehemently opposed progressives and caused weeks of stalemate.
As for Manchin, Pelosi extended his reach after a video conference call with Biden and Schumer on September 16. The three Democrats, who have been friends and allies for decades, deepened their bond during the conversation, cutting across and encouraging each other in their differing styles.
During that particular call, according to people with direct knowledge of it, Biden told two congressmen that he was encouraged by the cinema and his discussions with Manchin, although he agreed that talking to Pelosi to Munchkin also was to his advantage. could be for. ,
“I’m with you,” Biden told Pelosi and Schumer of his plans.
“Put an F-word in front of him,” said Schumer excitedly.
“Now that you have resorted to that language, I am going to thank you, Mr President,” replied the speaker, barking at the profanity.
“Nancy doesn’t allow me to curse,” replied Schumer. “I try to curb my foul mouth in front of him, with some degree of success.”
“Every time I see Nancy, I think of myself as some altar boy,” the president said.
When she went back to the stage, she had a reassuring message.
According to people familiar with the conversation, he told Pelosi, “There is a place where we can come together.” “I feel fairly certain. I’ve always wanted to make a deal.”
As noted by the Senate now, Pelosi said Munchkin should adopt the already won cuts in the social spending plan rather than spend extra.
“Be proud of what you’ve already done,” she said as she advised Manchin, then quickly turned to the argument she’s making for Democrats who wanted a more liberal bill: ” It’s still a huge number.” In reaching such an ambitious measure, Republican critics allege that Pelosi is driving the Democrats into political trouble — “marching them straight off a cliff”, in the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., minority leader — as that she prepares to leave the Congress. Pelosi dismissed the criticism but declined to address his plans.
“The first to ask is the last to know,” he warned.
Pelosi credited Biden with the vision and perseverance to advance the social safety net and climate law, and gave him and his allies credit when he called Friday to congratulate him after the vote.
In what has become a regular expression of his respect for Pelosi, according to people familiar with the exchange, he ended the conversation.
“Okay, love you,” Biden told her.
“Love you, too,” Pelosi replied.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.