Washington Examiner, September 2021
President Joe Biden likes to say, “The buck stops with him.” Congressional Democrats are amplifying that message, even as the $1.2 trillion bipartisan bricks-and-mortar infrastructure deal and sweeping $3.5 trillion partisan social welfare and climate spending proposal face obstacles on Capitol Hill. But at the same time, Biden and the White House emphasize it is up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to muscle the bills through her chambers, preparing to deflect some of the blame if she fails.
There is a simple explanation for the strategy, according to Democratic strategist Stefan Hankin. Biden, a 36-year senator of Delaware and a two-term vice president, is a “traditionalist,” he told the Washington Examiner. “The Senate and the House are supposed to do their job,” he said. “But obviously, he’s president, he’s the leader of the party right now, and it is his agenda.”
For fellow Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, it is “a myth” that rank-and-file Democrats could even distance themselves from Biden. In fact, he encouraged the “team effort,” differentiating Republican divisions from Democratic “disagreements.” “‘We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately’ — that old American line,” he said. Rosenberg was confident the infrastructure deal and reconciliation bill would eventually pass, adding Democrats had another chance to clear a reconciliation package next year. But while he downplayed possible political backlash from the chaos, he conceded mistakes were made.