White House says it’s ‘closer to agreement than ever’ after House punts infrastructure vote

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The White House on Thursday said Democrats were “closer to an agreement than ever” after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was forced to abort a planned vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill in the face of opposition from progressive members of the party.

“A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever. But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“While Democrats do have some differences, we share common goals of creating good union jobs, building a clean energy future, cutting taxes for working families and small businesses, helping to give those families breathing room on basic expenses—and doing it without adding to the deficit, by making those at the top pay their fair share,” she added.

House Democratic leaders late Thursday postponed a vote yet again on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill amid threats from progressives to tank it as leverage for a separate, larger package that contains party priorities on health care, education and climate policies.

House progressives had vowed to oppose the bill without having more concrete assurances about the contours of a reconciliation bill.

Democratic leadership and the White House were hoping they could reach an agreement on a framework for the reconciliation bill that would convince House progressives to vote for the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill. 

White House officials, led by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, met for hours on Capitol Hill with congressional leaders and their staff. They also met with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who are the main stumbling blocks to ensuring a reconciliation bill makes it through the Senate.

But Manchin emerged late Thursday evening and declared there was no deal and that it would take at least another day. The senator earlier in the day said he would not be comfortable with the reconciliation bill costing more than $1.5 trillion, something Sinema has backed.

A notice from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer‘s (D-Md.) office issued shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday confirmed that there would be no further votes for the night. The House is expected to reconvene Friday morning as the negotiations continue. 

President Biden was not seen or heard from all day Thursday, though White House officials said he was making calls to lawmakers to urge support for his agenda. He has devoted much of his time in recent weeks to wooing Manchin and Sinema in a bid to get them on board with the larger reconciliation bill.

Tags Brian Deese Jen Psaki Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer Susan Rice

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