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Can John Yarmuth Save the Biden Agenda?

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There’s a truism among the Capitol Hill press corps that if you need someone to provide you with a colorful quote, Representative John Yarmuth is always up for it. The affable Democrat from Kentucky will hold court with gaggles of reporters during votes, frequently offering several minutes of extended analysis of the state of play for the Democratic agenda, peppered with the occasional bon mot. Thanks to his role as Budget Committee chair, which is currently shepherding the massive reconciliation bill through the House, he’s been in high demand.

“My job in this whole process is to move the reconciliation process as quickly as I can with as few problems as I can,” Yarmuth told me in an interview on Wednesday morning. Or, as he put it another way, his job is to “herd Democratic cats.”

The reconciliation bill, which is still being crafted, is expected to include a host of Democratic priorities on child care, health care, and climate change. The legislation is crafted by the various committees with germane jurisdiction, then packaged and reported to the floor by the Budget Committee—meaning that Yarmuth and his committee are critical players.

Democrats have arrived at a crucial juncture in the life of their legislative agenda, with two massive measures, the aforementioned reconciliation bill and a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is currently set to be taken up on September 27, steaming toward completion. But several progressives, including Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, wary that they might come out on the losing end of what’s become an intraparty row with moderate Democrats, say they won’t vote for the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless the reconciliation bill has been passed first, in accordance with an original pact made by leadership, conjoining the two. As the latter bill has not yet been released, the likelihood of the reconciliation bill getting passed first diminishes with each passing day.

Yarmuth says that he is “pretty optimistic we’ll get this done eventually,” but as for the reconciliation being bill ready by Monday? “That’s just not possible,” he said. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised moderates that the House would only vote on a reconciliation bill that could also be approved in the Senate, where Democrats have a 50-seat majority, and one........

© New Republic

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