Pelosi, Moderates Restart Negotiations to Advance Biden Agenda
(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of centrist Democrats will resume talks Tuesday on how to advance President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, after hours of negotiations failed to break a stalemate late Monday.
Lawmakers will meet this morning to set new parameters for debate on the $3.5 trillion Democrat-only budget resolution and a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Pelosi said the House would convene at noon and vote later.
The impasse between House Democratic leaders and a group of moderate lawmakers over the process to address Biden’s economic priorities threatens to derail the president’s agenda if lawmakers cannot find an agreement in the coming days.
Pelosi has proposed holding off on passing the infrastructure bill until the larger economic package of social program spending is ready for consideration in the House, a process that could stretch well into the fall. Pelosi has pledged to bring up the infrastructure bill for a vote by Oct. 1. But there is no mechanism to enforce that promise, and part of the discussions involve how to secure that commitment.
At least 10 Democrats say they want to vote on the infrastructure bill now and will withhold their support for a resolution to unlock the budget process for the larger economic bill until the Senate-passed transportation and energy bill is up for a vote.
The budget resolution will allow Democrats to use a process known as reconciliation to bypass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and pass a multi-trillion spending bill without Republican support.
Pelosi is also managing demands from progressive lawmakers who have said they want to delay a vote on the infrastructure proposal to keep pressure on passing the bigger economic package, which includes key priorities for those members, including a Medicare expansion, climate investment and higher taxes on the wealthy.
The moderate lawmakers, led by Representative Josh Gottheimer, balked at a procedural maneuver floated by Pelosi on Monday that would deem the budget resolution adopted in a broader measure that would also advance the infrastructure bill and voting rights legislation. That prompted House Democratic leaders to scrap a scheduled vote Monday night.
“I’m bewildered by my party’s misguided strategy to make passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure bill contingent upon passage of the contentious, yet-to-be-written, partisan reconciliation bill,” Representative Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat, said in a op-ed Monday. “It’s bad policy and, yes, bad politics.”
Progressives have criticized their moderate colleagues for slowing down the legislation and say they should support beginning consideration of the reconciliation package.
“The whole reason that that they’ve introduced instability to the president’s agenda is trying to secure concessions on legislation that hasn’t been even been finalized yet,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told reporters.
Moderates are skittish of the overall cost of the $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, and are eager to see the infrastructure package, which includes funding for projects in their states, pass quickly to score a political win before they face voters in tough races next fall.
Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, the two most moderate Democrats in that chamber, have also said they won’t vote for $3.5 trillion in new spending, but have yet to say how much they would support.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.