House Progressives Need to Know When They’ve Lost

College is available for free. Medicare expansion is a good thing. A wealth tax would be imposed.

Despite the fact Democrats stripped a laundry list of progressive demands from their main domestic policy agenda, the House Democrats’ leader has still been declaring victory.

The False Celebration

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Wing, called the $1.7 trillion social policy measure “the optimistic outcome.”

This is a remarkable acknowledgment of the slender Democrat majorities that have plagued liberals all year. Neither Jayapal, nor her colleagues, are seriously considering voting against the Senate’s version of the plan when it returns to the House for a final vote.

That’s if it survives the further cutbacks and postponements Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is expected to impose. “What we’re attempting to do is keep it as great as it can be.”

In an interview this week, Jayapal added, “We’re now dependent on the senators to make sure it’s preserved.”

To be fair, there’s a lot in the Democrat Party’s bill to extend the welfare safety net, from universal pre-K to even more than $500 billion for global warming, that progressives will appreciate.

However, Jayapal and many others in her caucus have been furious for months as Manchin, a moderate, threatened to use his one-man vote amid an evenly split Senate to stifle their aspirations and delay the bill into next year.

Democrats Having a Hard Time Convincing Their Voters

As the focus shifts to the midterm elections, liberals face a difficult battle in persuading their restive base that it is, in fact, a success.

Faced with Manchin’s resistance and the upper chamber’s complicated budget rules, measures like paid family leave, immigration, medication price negotiation, and subsidized daycare are all in peril.

Several top progressives admitted communicating liberals’ now-cooperative strategy to a broad swath of their voters, who are growing increasingly frustrated with delays in Congress, would be challenging.

“Due to the filibuster, a number of bills are sitting on the desk of the Senate Majority Leader.” Democrat Rep. David Cicilline remarked, “That’s a really difficult thing to communicate to folks.”

“All they know is we have controlling numbers in all of those locations and we should be capable of delivering, and they are correct.”

Democrat Rep. John Yarmuth, a departing liberal who served in the House for 14 years, attributed some of the left’s tougher stances this year to the reality that the House’s latest crop of liberals never governed in the majority.

“They were posing, but also calculating, ‘Maybe I can get 100 percent of what I want,'” Yarmuth said.

“It’s considered a great triumph around here if you obtain 70% of what you want. I believe some of them realized along the line that this is how life works. Pramila, I believe, did, but, in the end, she did a fantastic job and was really effective.”