Democrats, White House scramble to cut deal to unlock infrastructure stalemate

Democrats and the White House are scrambling to reach a deal that would allow them to move forward with an infrastructure bill that has been stuck in limbo for much of Thursday. 

White House domestic policy adviser Susan RiceSusan RiceAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Biden administration, stakeholders to host interagency event on economic equity Black Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal MORE and senior adviser Brian DeeseBrian DeeseBiden says 'consumer spending has recovered' to pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Arbery case, Biden spending bill each test views of justice Democrats optimistic as social spending bill heads to Senate MORE traveled to Capitol Hill, where they huddled in Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE's (D-Calif.) office for hours.  

They then traveled to the Senate side of the Capitol, where they huddled in a basement office with Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Green groups spend big to promote climate policy MORE (D-Ariz.), two moderates at the heart of the intra-party fight over President BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE's sweeping social spending bill.  

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

Manchin has been skeptical of the potential to get a deal by Thursday for days, but told reporters ahead of the meeting that "anything is possible."  

"I think everybody understands where everybody is," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) also met with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan Sanders urges Biden to delay Medicare premium hike linked to Alzheimer's drug MORE (I-Vt.), who has been backchanneling with House progressives. 

Sanders, however, argued that there was little incentive for cutting a middle-of-the-night deal and that talks could continue next week. 

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"It would be outrageous to think that somehow at 11 p.m., or 1 o'clock in the morning somebody is going to reach an agreement that nobody in the House knows anything about, nobody in the Senate knows anything about," Sanders told reporters after the meeting.  

The House had been expected to vote on the Senate bill by Monday but Pelosi delayed that until Thursday to buy more time to get both sides of her caucus on the same page. 

But the week has been beset by high-profile infighting. Progressives are worried that if they pass the Senate bill moderates won't help them pass the social spending bill that contains most of their priorities.

There's also deep divisions on the top-line figure. Though Democrats passed a budget resolution earlier this year that allows for a bill of up to $3.5 trillion, Manchin said on Thursday that $1.5 trillion is as high as he's willing to go. 

The dispatch of the White House staff to Capitol Hill comes after Pelosi huddled in her office on Thursday with three of her caucus’s major blocs: the Blue Dogs, the Progressive Caucus and the New Democrats. Each faction emerged asserting their previously held demands — the same entrenched dynamics that created the infrastructure impasse. 

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After hours of behind-the-scenes haggling on Thursday, the House delayed votes until 9 p.m. Shortly before 9 p.m. lawmakers delayed votes until 10 p.m. 

In a letter to the Democratic caucus around 9:40 p.m. on Thursday, Pelosi said that discussions were ongoing but it had been a "day of progress" in trying to enact the president's agenda. 

"Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill," she wrote. 

But progressives are threatening to vote against the Senate bill if it is brought up without the reconciliation bill and appeared dug in.  

"Anything can happen. But if it happens it will go down, and I don't believe it's going to happen. ... I have never seen our caucus so strong, and I am a very good whip counter also — maybe not quite as good as Nancy Pelosi sometimes, but I'm excellent. ... We're still at over a majority, and it keeps kind of growing," Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said.