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Kelly Evans: The Big Deal About This “Big Deal”

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

I don't love following all the machinations in D.C. So when it seems like Big Things Are Happening, I turn to my political guru, CNBC producer Jackson Burke, for the real story.  

I asked him about The Infrastructure Deal that seems to be coming together. Is it really, and what's the real story? Here are his super-condensed thoughts: 

"The things that could derail a Senate bill are potentially infinite. So before we declare a new Era of Good Feelings, it's worth looking at the players that could doom this bill if events don't break the right way. Since that could include pretty much everyone at the moment, I've narrowed it down to four.  

1) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She will not bring the infrastructure bill to the House floor unless the Senate votes to proceed on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package (which they need all 50 votes for). Using reconciliation, by the way, to pass a budget loaded with Democratic priorities--child care, climate change, and other forms of social spending--is a technique inspired by the Republican use of reconciliation to pass the Tax Cut and Jobs Act in 2017. On that note... 

2) Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). She gave a written statement to the Arizona Republic yesterday saying that the $3.5 trillion price tag on the reconciliation package was too high. "I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion," she wrote. Senator Manchin (D-WV) has also expressed discomfort with the price tag. And Sinema is one of the key architects of the infrastructure bill! So what happens if the Democrats fragment on these key linked priorities? Well...  

3) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). His intentions on infrastructure are opaque. But his priorities are pretty simple: his ultimate goal is for the GOP to take back control of the Senate. If he believes the infrastructure bill's passage will further that goal, it will pass. And at this point, the vast majority of Americans do see the maintenance of roads, bridges, and waterways as a key function of government. McConnell has already voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor, even though allies--and potential successors--like Senators Thune (R-SD) and Barrasso (R-WY) voted against that. And that's where Trump comes in... 

4) Former President Donald Trump. In a blistering statement Wednesday, he railed against the passage of the bill, warning it "will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election." He also warned Republicans "Patriots never forget! If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way!" Trump's influence is still enormous, but is his power  over the party waning?  Some are pointing to a Texas special election, where the candidate that Trump backed (Susan Wright), lost to fellow Republican Jake Ellzey by more than six percentage-points.  

And if President Biden is ultimately able to sign this bill, he'll have accomplished something in his first nine months that Trump promised but couldn't deliver: a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, and a massive deal across the aisle. If Trump does challenge Biden in 2024, expect Biden's ability to do a deal that Trump couldn't to come up early, and often. In other words, it may not be 2022 that Trump is worried about so much as 2024." 

Kelly here. So basically, both parties are dealing with power struggles between their "old" centrist and newer, more ideological wings in terms of who has the most support of voters. For the Democrats, moving forward risks losing centrists like Manchin and Sinema (over the budget's price tag). For the Republicans, moving forward could strengthen the centrists but undermine Trump, and they run the risk of being thrown out instead of rewarded by GOP voters for that in the next two elections.  

Very tricky (and a huge thanks to Jackson, who is the best). I'm going back to dissecting real rates now! 

See you at 1 p.m... 

Kelly

Twitter: @KellyCNBC

Instagram: @realkellyevans

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