Embattled Democrat Terry McAuliffe Is Begging Biden to Get His S–t Together

Pop Culture
The Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia is now neck and neck with his Trump-endorsed opponent. Their race could hinge on whether Democrats pass their two major bills—and may set the tone for 2022. 

As if the stakes for the infrastructure deal weren’t high enough, there’s another pressing reason for Democrats to get something done: state and local elections. Prominent party leaders, from first lady Jill Biden to former president Barack Obama, are set to visit Virginia to stump for Terry McAuliffe, the gubernatorial candidate there who is running in a dead heat with MAGA Republican Glenn Youngkin in the final month of a race seen as a bellwether for next year’s midterms. Campaign appearances by some of the most popular party figures could certainly give him a boost. But more helpful, McAuliffe suggested in an Associated Press interview published Wednesday, would be for members of his party, from Joe Biden on down, to “get their act together” and give them major accomplishments to run on.

“They got to get their work done,” said McAuliffe, who previously served as Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018. “People are counting on them. Do your job. I don’t care what you call it or what mechanism you use…I’m for doing whatever the Senate has to do to pass meaningful legislation that will move this country forward.”

The infrastructure bills currently stuck in legislative limbo would make a significant and tangible impact on the lives of millions of Americans, through ambitious social programs and desperately-needed climate initiatives. Delivering on them now may also be crucial to Democrats’ prospects going forward—a test of whether or not Biden, with the White House and narrow control of Congress, can deliver on some of his biggest campaign promises. But at the moment, the fate of the proposals is in the hands of two senators: Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, a pair of obstinate conservative Democrats who remain at loggerheads not just with the rest of their party, but apparently with each other.

A major obstacle in the negotiations has been that the two holdouts each seem to “want very different things, both in terms of revenue and programs,” as a Biden source told Politico Wednesday. For instance, Sinema, an ally of the pharmaceutical lobby, has major objections with drug pricing reform—a bold proposal that Manchin generally appears to support. The West Virginia senator, meanwhile, has qualms about the climate initiatives that would shift the country away from coal—policies Sinema seems to back—and has dismissed proposals to subsidize the mining jobs that would be lost in the move toward green energy as “welfare,” according to Politico. “So, like, where the hell is the overlap?” the Biden source vented to the outlet. “How do you land that?”

For top Democrats, that may mean scaling back plans, or focusing on the plans that have the biggest impact in the long term. “They are coming down on the side of ‘choose programs that really have an impact on families and people’s lives and that can be executed well,’” the source told Politico. It remains unclear whether that will appease Manchin and Sinema, the latter of whom has continued to be cagey with her demands both in public and in discussions with Democrats not named Biden. Also unclear is whether concessions to Manchin and Sinema will make the bill unpalatable for progressives, who have led the fight for Biden’s domestic agenda. “We can and must deliver every piece of the transformational Build Back Better Act to people across America,” Representative Pramila Jayapal wrote in a tweet on Tuesday. “We can’t afford not to.”

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