Biden’s infrastructure bill prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge Democrats on Monday that approval of the $550 billion infrastructure bill should not be delayed pending the execution of President Joe Biden’s multibillion-dollar safety net bill not yet ready for a vote.
According to a source familiar with the session, Pelosi, D-Calif., during a private caucus meeting, the party must “make hard decisions” because the political landscape has shifted, and Democrats have not yet agreed on a spending level.
Speaker Pelosi reversed her previous stance on Biden’s Infrastructure Bill due to the measure’s dynamics.
“I told you all that we would not proceed with the [infrastructure bill unless the Senate passed the reconciliation bill. We were on track to do all of that until ten days ago, a week ago, when I received word that this number needed to be shrunk,” Pelosi stated, according to the source. “As a result of the changes, our approach had to adapt as well.
“We had to adapt to the necessary changes. And we cannot say until the Senate passes the bill that we cannot undertake BIF,” she continued, referring to the bipartisan infrastructure framework in shorthand.
The comments signal a remarkable reversal for Pelosi, who stated in June that the House “ain’t” voting on the infrastructure bill unless the Senate passed it.
The development means that the House would likely vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill on Thursday, regardless of whether a deal on the separate bill is reached by then, as progressives have sought to secure their votes for it.
However, even if Pelosi calls the vote, whether the infrastructure bill would pass the House is unclear.
Progressive legislators have threatened to vote down President Biden’s Infrastructure Bill.
Progressive House Democrats have threatened to vote against Biden’s infrastructure bill if the vote is taken Thursday before the mega-bill is finalized, fearful that centrist Democrats will seek to cut or eliminate the larger bill if the bipartisan infrastructure legislation succeeds.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, reiterated that position Monday evening following the meeting, saying progressives in the House are prepared to vote against the infrastructure bill on Thursday.
“We demand the reconciliation bill, and thus we have a scenario in which the huge, great, enormous majority of Democrats want to see the president’s agenda accomplished,” she said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” “Surely it can’t be lip service, right, Rachel? It must be a written bill with agreed-upon legislative content, agreed-upon figures, and agreed-upon everything.”
During her address to Democratic legislators, Pelosi stated that the House and Senate must agree on the larger bill before a vote can be taken. That is a tough assignment, given that party leaders have yet to address a slew of policy and cost issues among Democrats, who hold razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate. They have no realistic prospect of securing Republican backing for the bill.
Despite her progressive leanings, Pelosi has a history of defending moderate members who typically represent swing districts and determine whether Democrats retain the House majority. Her changing position comes as centrists demand a vote on Biden’s infrastructure bill, ready to head home and campaign on a substantial bipartisan success.
The dispute over the $3.5 trillion price tag has centered on West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, both centrist Democrats who have pushed on its reduction. However, they have not specified a price, which has slowed the negotiations.
When pressed repeatedly by NBC News on Monday, Manchin failed to say if he would be OK with a $2 trillion expenditure threshold. He advocated for means-testing and the addition of work requirements to benefit programs and lower the income threshold for eligibility.
Manchin also stated that he would not support a bigger reconciliation bill if progressives in the House reject the infrastructure bill this week. He said that he expects it would pass eventually, if not this week.
“I guarantee this: The infrastructure bill will pass before November 2022, ahead of the election,” he stated. “I will ensure that bill is passed by November 2022.”
Democratic leaders face a tremendous uphill task to reach an agreement on the mega-bill by Thursday, which would free up progressive votes to pass Biden’s infrastructure bill.
Biden met with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, on Monday. According to the White House, the three leaders “agreed on the necessity of continuing work on the two pieces of legislation that represent the President’s vision.”