House Democrats set ‘goal’ to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week
House Democrats are hoping to vote next week on both facets of President Biden’s far-reaching domestic agenda: a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a much larger social benefits package, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Friday.
“That’s the plan,” Pelosi said as she emerged from a leadership meeting in her Capitol office.
In a letter to Democrats distributed moments later, the Speaker stopped just short of guaranteeing both votes next week but laid out the steps “as we move forward to pass two jobs bills next week.”
The strategy is intended to break the stubborn impasse between the warring factions of the House Democratic Caucus by meeting the demands of both moderates — who have insisted on a standalone infrastructure vote by Monday — and liberals, who were poised to sink the public works bill unless the larger package of “family” benefits was passed in tandem.
Because of internal disagreements over the size and scope of Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion social spending bill, there were widespread expectations that the package would not be ready to hit the floor of either chamber until next month.
Yet Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are racing to expedite the process.
The House Budget Committee on Friday is poised to release the text of Biden’s Build Back Better plan — a massive, 2,500-page proposal that reflects the work of 13 separate House committees. And Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) has scheduled a special Saturday meeting to compile the package and send it to the House Rules Committee.
“We’ll get it reported out tomorrow,” Yarmuth said.
He was cautious, however, about committing to bringing the package to the floor next week. “It’s going to be up when we’re ready,” he said.
But a member of leadership close to Pelosi said that’s the “goal.” And that message was amplified by other members of the leadership team.
“Reconciliation’s a possibility for next week,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said as he left Pelosi’s office.
In her letter, Pelosi said the package will likely be amended in the Rules Committee, which is led by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
“As negotiations continue, there may be changes,” she wrote.
Pelosi has previously said that she won’t bring a reconciliation bill to the floor that cannot also pass through the Senate, where a pair of centrists — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — have balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag favored by both Biden and House leadership.
As the debate evolves, a number of questions remain unanswered.
It remains unclear, for instance, if the House-Senate negotiations — which are designed to arrive at an agreeable top-line spending number — are far enough along to allow the House to vote on the package before October.
It’s also unclear if the infrastructure bill will receive a vote on Monday, as Pelosi has promised moderates, or if it will slip to later in the week to allow the larger reconciliation package to work its way to completion.
Asked if Monday’s vote is still on, Pelosi was evasive.
“We’re bringing the bill up, we will have a vote when we have the votes,” she said.
Updated at 11:51 a.m.