Josh Gottheimer is in the middle of things.
The CD-5 congressman was at the White House a few days ago and has been a routine presence on TV news shows.
As a member of the Problem Solvers caucus, a bipartisan group seeking common ground in a divided land, the ongoing debate seems a most natural fit. With one key difference, of course.
The dispute is among Democrats. Republicans are on the sidelines.
Like many things in politics, the nuts and bolts of the dispute don’t seem complicated.
Earlier this year, the Senate with some Republican backing passed a $1.2 trillion bill to improve roads and bridges and to expand Internet service to rural areas.
You would think this would be an easy lift for the Democratic-controlled House.
This brings us to another bill, a $3.5 trillion measure that encapsulates much of the Democratic agenda by providing money for child care, community college, health care and other safety net programs.
This bill has not yet been passed by the Senate.
That’s a problem for House liberals.
They say they want the Senate and House to pass the larger bill before supporting the smaller, infrastructure bill.
Gottheimer is well familiar with the party’s left wing. Just a few days ago, they protested outside his district office in Glen Rock.
Still, in his TV appearances, he exuded confidence that all will work out.
Part of his optimism stems from his faith in Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“There’s no one better getting the votes, and she will,” he said Thursday night on CNN.
The plan under this scenario is to pass the $1.2 trillion bill on Monday, as Pelosi promised last month, and then handle the larger bill sometime after that.
But here’s the uncertainty.
Some progressive House members are vowing to oppose the infrastructure bill unless the larger bill is passed.
Gottheimer doesn’t buy it.
“No Democrat is going to vote against the president on infrastructure,” he said on CNN. “I just don’t see it.”
As the negotiations and internal party maneuverings continue over the weekend, you wonder if all Dems in Washington – those on the left, the right and in the middle – realize a basic truism.
Or perhaps a question.
What good is Democratic control of the presidency and Congress if the party gets nothing major accomplished?