Moderate Democrats push for standalone infrastructure vote
Moderate Democrats are seeking to put pressure on House leadership to allow a standalone vote on the roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, while raising concerns about the party’s plans for a broader $3.5 trillion package.
A group of six moderate Democrats has started circulating a letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that urges her to bring the bipartisan legislation to the House floor for a vote as soon as it passes the Senate.
“As soon as the Senate completes its work, we must bring this bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor for a standalone vote. This once-in-a-century investment deserves its own consideration, without regard to other legislation,” reads the letter, which was obtained by The Hill.
“Separately, as we begin the reconciliation process, we have concerns about the specific components of that potential package,” the lawmakers continued, referring to Democratic leaders’ plans to pass a $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” bill through the budget reconciliation process later this year.
The letter is being circulated by moderate Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jared Golden (Maine), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Ed Case (Hawaii) and Filemon Vela (Texas), according a source familiar with the matter.
The letter comes after the Senate voted earlier in the day Saturday to start wrapping up the bill, clearing a key hurdle for the upper chamber to pass the measure. Still, GOP Sen. Bill Hagerty (Tenn.) has vowed to block attempts to speed up the bill’s passage, extending debate for days.
Democratic leaders originally planned to pass the $1 trillion package and then immediately begin the process to iron out a $3.5 trillion package through budget reconciliation — which would allow Senate Democrats to pass the measure without any GOP votes.
The Senate would need all 50 Democrats to support the measure, and Pelosi can barely afford any defections among her caucus.
Pelosi has said she plans to bring both bills to the floor for a vote at the same time, and reaffirmed that pledge during a news conference on Friday.
“Whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way, bravo. We salute it. We applaud it. We hope that it will pass soon. But, at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind,” she said.
A spokesperson for Pelosi referred back to the Speaker’s remarks when asked about the letter from moderate Democrats on Saturday.
The moderate Democratic lawmakers wrote that before the House adopts a budget resolution, members should be able to review “a detailed scope of spending levels and revenue raisers”
“These specifics are crucial, particularly given the combined threat of rising inflation, national debt, and the trillions recently, and appropriately, allocated to the COVID-19 emergency. We also must have the financial resources to respond to any new waves of the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote.