Progressive lawmakers led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, refused to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Democrats reach an agreement on a key piece of the president’s legislative agenda, known as the Build Back Better Act.
“I’m proud of our caucus,” Jayapal said Thursday afternoon as the infrastructure vote looks unlikely to happen. “I have never seen our caucus so strong.”
The postponement was a setback for Pelosi, but only temporarily. Although they are missing a self-set deadline, Democrats still have time to figure out how to win approval for both pieces of legislation. The House will return to session Friday.
Progressives worry that if the House passes the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which the Senate approved on a bipartisan basis this year, Democrats will lose momentum in their efforts to also pass a tough bill that includes spending on climate, education and health care.
Moderate Democrats heavily involved in developing the infrastructure bill do not support spending $ 3.5 trillion on the second step demanded by progressives, and they have refused to explicitly commit to voting for it.
With dozens of progressive Houses threatening to oppose the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and Republican lawmakers unwilling to lend any aid, Pelosi expected confidence and continued to try to reach an agreement throughout the day on Thursday but seemed to take on a “dear colleague” statement to his fellow Democrats after 9 pm, calling it a “day of progress.”
“Discussions are ongoing in the House, Senate and White House to reach an agreement on the bicameral Build Back Better framework through a bill,” Pelosi said.
Si Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Head of the Senate Budget Committee and a key author of the original spending plan, hailed the progressive blockade in the House.
“I expect to get us out of square one and into square two,” Sanders told HuffPost on Wednesday. “Both bills must proceed in parallel, simultaneously, and it is imperative that we pass both of them.”
What happens next is not clear. Pelosi could schedule another vote on the infrastructure bill at any time, but with progressives dug in and moderates still negotiating with Biden in the White House, Democrats have found themselves frozen and exploited by divisions. threatening to derail the president’s entire legislative agenda in Congress.
Democrats, however, maintain that Thursday’s vote pulled in the House was a fast pace toward the passage of Biden’s broad agenda, and not a death blow.
“There’s nothing magical about that vote tomorrow,” Sen. said. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Wednesday. “Setting deadlines has moved things, that’s the goal.”
The moderate Democrats led by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) urged the House to vote on the infrastructure bill first, without linking it to the Build Back Better Act. And Manchin said he doesn’t like the bill as much as party leaders thought, saying it needs things like “job requirements” and “means testing” to exclude the poorest and richest Americans to get of benefits.
Manchin has nothing to say about progressive Democrats effectively blocking the bill in the House.
“I’m always willing to deal in good faith,” Manchin told HuffPost.
Manchin said Thursday that he would only support a bill with $ 1.5 trillion in new spending, regardless of whether the amount is offset by increased tax revenue, but he said little about which policies what he will support within the spending amount.
Manchin is the Democrat’s most visible opponent, but not necessarily its toughest. Democrats are also pointing to Sen. Kyrsten Cinema (D-Ariz.) As a major touch on Biden’s agenda. Sinema did not support a $ 3.5 trillion bill and refused to deliver details about what he wanted to see in a reconciliation package, which he hates his colleagues and others close to the Biden administration.
Sinema was outraged Wednesday when a reporter asked if she had anything to say to progressives about her position.
“I’m in the Senate,” he said, just entering the building.
Manchin and Sinema want the House to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. But with progressive Houses holding the line, they will have to cut a deal on the social spending bill.
“Our two senators need to tell us what they are for,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) Kay HuffPost.
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