House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is pushing back on a deal made with moderate Democrats in bringing the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill up for a House vote on Monday, by delaying it for a few days until Thursday as Congress prepares for busy “Hell Week” on three major bills expected to come to the House floor this week.
“Let me just say we’re going to pass the bill this week,” Pelosi said Sunday on ABC News ‘This Week.’ “But you know I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes. And I think any time you put in an arbitrary date… you cannot choose the date, you have to go when you have the votes.”
"I'm never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn't have the votes."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells @GStephanopoulos that she may not bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor Monday as she previously committed to. https://t.co/iBAc9TuzAq pic.twitter.com/AmWyFLu4YO
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 26, 2021
In a letter to House Democrats Saturday after the interview, Pelosi revealed that she plans to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill by Thursday.
“This week is a week of opportunity, as we work to keep the government open, conclude negotiations on the Build Back Better Act and advance the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework,” Pelosi wrote. “Tomorrow, September 27, we will begin debate on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework on the Floor of the House and vote on it on Thursday, September 30, the day on which the surface transportation authorization expires.”
The Speaker vowed last Friday to commit to the original promise she made with moderate Democrats in bringing the infrastructure measure up for a floor vote for this Monday. Late last month, the House passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution after a stalemate between Democrat leadership and a rebellious group of moderate Democrats struck a deal with a promise from Pelosi to bring a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill scheduled no later than Sept. 27.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan passed the Senate in August by a 69-30 vote. Moderates Democrats want a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill first and to be brought on the floor as a standalone vote, while progressive Democrats have long declared that they would tank the bipartisan bill if it is not approved alongside the much larger Democratic-only social spending package. The $3.5 trillion spending legislation pours billions into funding their focused-based social safety net programs by increasing taxes while adding to the deficit. The legislation includes provisions like paid family leave, universal pre-K, free community college, and initiatives to address climate change.
Pelosi admitted that it “seems self-evident” to get the necessary votes that there would have to be further changes to the massive social spending package, and the final number will end up being smaller than $3.5 trillion.
“Obviously, with negotiation, there will have to be some changes in [the $3.5 trillion price tag] — the sooner, the better so that we can build our consensus to go forward, and we will do that,” Pelosi said, saying Democrats are “ready” to negotiate and come to a consensus. “We have to find our common ground, respectful of each other’s views. This isn’t about moderates versus progressives.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week, alarmed her party, saying that is more than 50 of the 96 members of the progressive caucus that are threatening to vote against the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill if there isn’t first agreement on the $3.5 social welfare package. During an appearance on CNN, Jayapal confirmed that the votes are still aren’t there for the bipartisan deal, calling for the social-spending package to be resolved first before Pelosi brings the Senate-approved infrastructure bill up for a vote.
“I don’t believe there will be a vote,” Jayapal said on CNN ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday. “The speaker is an incredibly good vote counter, and she knows exactly where her caucus stands, and we’ve been really clear on that.”
“This is a pre-conference bill, which means everybody, everybody in the Senate, everybody in the House, has to agree to it,” Jayapal added.
Jayapal said the “vast majority of the Democratic caucus” is behind Biden’s “Build Back Better” proposals but wants the Senate to engage with the House.
“It’s going to take the Senate, Joe Manchin and others, sitting down to actually negotiate. And I am ready, willing, and able to talk to anyone about anything at any time to get that done,” Jayapal said.
On Saturday, the House Budget Committee met for a series of procedural votes needed to move President Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” social-spending bill ahead for a full vote on the House floor. The panel approved in a vote of 20-17 to advance the bill. One lone Democrat, Rep. Scott Peters of California, split from his party in joining all 16 Republican members to vote against pushing the bill for a final vote.
However, while currently at 2,465 pages, the large social-spending package is still incomplete as of Monday.
Democrat infighting has caused delays as they scramble to pass the central element of President Biden’s key legislative spending agenda by the end of the month. The spending package faces opposition in the Senate not only from Republicans but also Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who both have voiced reservations to the $3.5 trillion price tag.
On top of the infighting, Democrats are also dealing with preventing a government shutdown on Oct. 1 by voting on a short-term funding bill and raise the debt ceiling, the federal government borrowing limit that is set to expire in October. Republicans have vowed to oppose any measure of hiking the debt limit, arguing the issue should be resolved within the majority party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) repeatedly alerted Democrats they would not get help from Republicans.