Pelosi presses ahead with planned Thursday vote on infrastructure
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is pressing ahead with her plan to stage a Thursday vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, brushing aside threats from liberals vowing to sink the proposal and expressing confidence it will pass.
“We’re on a path to win the vote,” Pelosi said. “I don’t want to even consider any options other than that.”
Pelosi has promised moderate members of her caucus a Thursday vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, which passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support last month.
But she’s also stipulated that she’ll never bring a bill to the floor knowing it will fail — a condition that’s created an enormous dilemma for Democratic leaders, since dozens of liberals appear to be lining up in opposition to the infrastructure bill to protest the lack of progress on a larger, $3.5 trillion social benefits package that stands as the second prong of President Biden’s two-part domestic agenda.
Even as Pelosi was projecting optimism that the infrastructure bill will find the necessary support to pass Thursday, her top lieutenant, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), was sounding a different message.
Asked if he’s confident it will pass, Hoyer was blunt: “Nope.”
The impasse on the larger “family” benefits bill has originated in the Senate, where a pair of moderate Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kysten Sinema (Ariz.) — has rejected the $3.5 trillion price tag, as well as a host of benefits they deem too generous.
Manchin on Thursday announced that his top-line spending number for the budget reconciliation package is $1.5 trillion, far below the $3.5 trillion spending goal set by the budget resolution that he and every other Senate Democrat voted for last month.
Cheered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), House liberals are hinging their support for infrastructure on firm assurances that all 50 Senate Democrats are committed to supporting the larger social spending bill, which party leaders intend to move by a special budget procedure known as reconciliation that nullifies the GOP’s filibuster powers.
Those liberals are digging in, and appear to have the numbers to sink the bipartisan public works package.
“We’re a ‘no’ on the bipartisan [infrastructure] bill until we get a vote on the reconciliation bill,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Progressive Caucus, said Wednesday evening.
Pelosi acknowledged that the infrastructure bill is doomed without those assurances from the Senate holdouts. But she praised Manchin on Thursday as a “great” member of Congress, and suggested the House, Senate and White House are closer to a deal than the public clashes have suggested.
“We have to have an agreement together,” Pelosi said. “I think that the path we are on is leading to that agreement.”
Asked if that agreement can arrive in time to salvage Thursday’s infrastructure vote, the Speaker said, “That is the plan.”
Updated at 12:43 p.m.
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