The Blue Dog Democrats Have a Point
Now, the Blue Dog proposal is based on the idea that there would be 10 Republican votes for a bill focused on vaccine production and distribution. It is certainly possible, if not certain, that that many Republicans would sign onto the proposal. But the Democrats who wrote the letter actually do have a fallback plan should the GOP prove recalcitrant, writing, “if we are mistaken, and Senate Republicans block this vaccine-targeted legislation, we can simply continue to include its provisions in the reconciliation bill. We will be in the exact same position as the reconciliation process moves forward, and no time will be lost.”
Once again, this is reasonable and hard to argue with. There’s no good reason to wait more than a month to speed up the vaccine pipeline if a bipartisan deal to do so could be had now, without sacrificing the rest of the package later.
One notable thing about this approach is that, prior to the Blue Dogs advocating for it, there was already support for something similar on the left end of the spectrum. The American Prospect’s David Dayen spent January advocating for a “checks and shots strategy,” in which Congress would immediately move on vaccinations and the promised (and hugely popular) stimulus checks, to get those things out to Americans as quickly as possible, before moving on to pass the rest of Biden’s “Rescue Plan” through the lengthy reconciliation process that we are currently watching unfold. I was convinced then. And a similar argument from the most conservative Democratic members of Congress makes just as much sense.