Pelosi Strikes Deal With Moderates on Biden Economic Agenda
(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and moderate Democrats struck a deal on moving forward with President Joe Biden’s $4.1 trillion in economic plans, according to a lawmaker involved in the negotiations.
The deal allows moderates to support a procedural vote Tuesday afternoon that would adopt the Senate’s $3.5 trillion budget resolution and set the terms for a later vote on final passage of a $550 billion infrastructure bill, Texas Representative Henry Cuellar said.
Adoption of the budget framework will clear the way for work on tax and spending legislation using a process called reconciliation to enact Democratic priorities for social programs and climate policy without needing Republican support in the Senate.
The agreement ends a standoff between Pelosi and a group of 10 moderates that had threatened to sink that agenda. It came after a pressure campaign by Democratic leaders that included calls to House members by the president and his senior staff.
Key to the deal, ahead of an expected House vote Tuesday afternoon, was action by the Rules Committee to put a Sept. 27 deadline for the infrastructure vote into writing. That, and a commitment by Pelosi not to have the House vote on a reconciliation bill that cannot pass the Senate, was enough to appease the group of 10 centrists, who had threatened to hold up the budget framework if the House didn’t pass the infrastructure bill this week.
“These negotiations are never easy,” Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said. “It is my hope that my colleagues will recognize the very simple choice to advance the president’s agenda or obstruct it.”
The moderate lawmakers, led by New Jersey Representative Josh Gottheimer, had said they wanted to vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill before starting the process on the separate, broader tax and spending legislation.
Progressive Democrats had demanded the opposite -- they wanted to hold off on a final infrastructure vote until the budget package, which includes key health care and tax priorities, is completed.
In a sign of potential difficulties ahead, progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said she still wants the infrastructure and reconciliation bills voted on at the same time.
“If that is not the case then they shouldn’t count on us,” she said.
Given the complexities of the spending and tax package, having it finished and ready for a vote by the end of September will be a significant challenge.
“We’re going to have to leap together,” Pennsylvania Representative Brendan Boyle, a Pelosi ally, said on Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” program. Progressives and moderates “need to come together and recognize it’s either going to be doing both bills or we’re really, in the end, not going to be able to pass either one of them,” he said.
The anticipated vote Tuesday would adopt the $3.5 trillion budget resolution as part of a rule governing debate on the infrastructure bill, along with legislation on voting rights. The voting bill will get a separate vote on Tuesday.
The dissent among Democrats demonstrates the difficult negotiations Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will face as they try to steer the multi-trillion-dollar legislative package through Congress in the coming weeks. The budget resolution sets a Sept. 15 deadline for the congressional committees responsible for drafting the tax and spending legislation, a tight timeframe, with lawmakers scheduled to be away from Washington until the middle of the month.
Some moderate Democrats in both chambers have balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag of the spending package, and others have expressed concerns about some of the tax hikes for corporations and high-income individuals that are part of that plan.
Congress also faces a collision of crucial deadlines in September. Lawmakers will have to pass a stopgap funding bill to avoid an Oct. 1 government shutdown, and they’ll have to raise the nation’s debt ceiling around the same time to avoid a default on federal payment obligations.
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