Pelosi, Moderate Democrats Stuck Over Infrastructure Bill Timing
(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi floated a potential compromise to moderate Democrats who are threatening to withhold crucial support from a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, prompting a rebuff as the group said they stand by their demand of an immediate vote on a separate, bipartisan infrastructure package.
Pelosi’s proposal, in a letter to rank-and-file Democrats, involves allowing a procedural vote next week on the $550 billion infrastructure bill to mollify their demands, as well as an already planned vote to advance the more expansive Senate budget framework.
Pelosi’s offer fell short of satisfying the group of at least nine moderates who have been threatening to unravel plans for moving President Joe Biden’s agenda through Congress.
“While we appreciate the forward procedural movement on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, our view remains consistent: We should vote first on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework without delay and then move to immediate consideration of the budget resolution,” the nine representatives said in a statement Sunday night. “We simply cannot afford any delays.”
House Democrats scheduled a caucus call for Tuesday at noon as they seek to resolve differences over the path forward and the sequencing of Biden’s two-track approach.
Pelosi’s proposal earlier Sunday reflects conflicting pressures on the speaker within her caucus. Progressives are demanding that she hold up a vote on the infrastructure package until the Senate completes a final version of the bigger budget package to ensure it addresses their priorities on social programs and climate change.
“Our goal is to pass the budget resolution the week of August 23rd so that we may pass Democrats’ Build Back Better agenda via reconciliation as soon as possible,” Pelosi said in the letter released earlier Sunday by her office.
“To that end, I have requested that the Rules Committee explore the possibility of a rule that advances both the budget resolution and the bipartisan infrastructure package,” adds Pelosi, “This will put us on a path to advance the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill.”
By “rule,” Pelosi is referring to a separate measure that typically defines floor-vote procedures and amendments to be debated, rather than the legislation itself.
With the narrow House Democratic majority, Pelosi can’t lose more than three votes from her party against anticipated Republican opposition.
On Thursday, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and eight other moderates wrote to the speaker, saying they “will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law.”
Each of those nine were on the statement issued issued Sunday rebuffing the Pelosi offer. Along with Gottheimer, they are Representatives Filemon Vela, Henry Cuellar and Vincente Gonzalez of Texas; Kurt Schrader of Oregon; Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia; Jared Golden of Maine; Jim Costa of California and Ed Case of Hawaii.
Some other Democratic members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition have similarly told Pelosi that they want a quick vote on the infrastructure bill, though in less demanding language.
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