Pelosi sets up risky House vote to deem $3.5T budget approved

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.) and her leadership team are pressing forward with a risky strategy Monday to move forward on key parts of President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE’s domestic agenda while refusing to bend to demands from a handful of centrists. 

The plan would see the House vote on a rule Monday night that would deem a $3.5 trillion budget as adopted while setting up a process for considering a bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by the Senate at an unspecified time. 

The strategy is risky because 10 centrist Democrats have said they will not back the $3.5 billion budget without voting first on the infrastructure bill. It is not clear these Democrats will vote for the rule deeming the budget as being adopted. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Pelosi can afford only three defections if all Republicans vote against the rule as expected.

If the rule fails, it would be an embarrassing setback for Democrats that would highlight their divisions. 

Pelosi has sided with liberals in the House, who make up a large majority of her caucus, in demanding that the lower chamber approve the budget before taking action on the infrastructure bill. 

Pelosi rarely brings anything to the floor that does not have enough votes to pass, and fellow Democrats on Monday were wondering whether she can somehow find the votes to move the rule forward. 

Members of Pelosi’s leadership team sounded uncertain if the plan would actually work.

ADVERTISEMENT

When asked if Democrats have enough votes to adopt the rule, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) replied, “I have no idea.” 

Shortly after top Democrats announced their new plan, Rep. Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerSunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies Caregiving coalition airs 7-figure ad blitz backing .5T bill Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (D-N.J.), the leader of the group of centrists demanding an immediate vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, huddled with leadership off the House floor for more than an hour. But the meeting did not produce an immediate resolution to the standoff, with Democratic leaders still cagey about the next steps.

When asked if leadership had the votes to adopt the rule, Pelosi replied, “When we bring the bill to the floor, we will.”

One moderate Democrat predicted that the latest strategy wouldn’t fly. “The rule is going down,” the lawmaker told The Hill. 

Progressives, meanwhile, expressed frustration with the centrists who began demanding a swift vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill only earlier this month even though Pelosi has said for months that the House wouldn’t vote on it until the larger $3.5 trillion spending plan to expand the social safety net is done.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The idea of just kind of throwing a bomb at the eleventh hour, it just doesn't seem responsible to the people of this country who expect a legislature that works for them,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDon't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery Ocasio-Cortez explains 'present' vote on Iron Dome Dingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps MORE (D-N.Y.). 

Members of Pelosi’s leadership team framed the vote on the rule as a test of the party unity needed to accomplish Biden’s agenda.

“The rule is about being in the majority. There’s a long way to go on legislative issues that are going to play out over the next month. But for the moment the argument is over shall the House proceed,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWhy Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong Biden says he supports taxing billionaires' investment gains annually Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs MORE (D-Mass.). 

The White House also has been working overtime to try to put Democrats on a path to victory.

Labor Secretary Marty WalshMarty WalshBoston set to elect first female mayor Democrat Michelle Wu advances in Boston mayoral election Biden steps into legal fight with vaccine mandates MORE, Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmFederal watchdog calls on Congress, Energy Dept. to overhaul nuclear waste storage process Energy Department's loan program helped Tesla; now it needs to help low-income communities Biden administration launches new effort to help communities with energy transition MORE and Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE as well as top White House aides Louisa TerrellLouisa TerrellDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Pelosi sets up risky House vote to deem .5T budget approved The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Census marks US first: White population shrinks MORE, Shuwanza Goff, Brian DeeseBrian DeeseDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions On The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default Biden officials raise concerns about rising meat prices MORE and Shalanda Young have held calls with members of the Moderate Nine, urging them to back the rule on Monday and hearing their concerns, said a source familiar with the calls.

Naomi Jagoda and Brett Samuels contributed.

Updated 9:03 p.m.