Pelosi implores Democrats to ’embrace’ emerging deal

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrives for a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday beseeched progressive and moderate Democrats to compromise and “embrace” the emerging deal on President Biden’s mammoth social spending package, warning that time was running out for Democrats to notch a huge legislative victory.

“We are on the verge of something major, transformative, historic and bigger than anything else,” Pelosi told Democrats during a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol, according to a source in the room. 

“Embrace it for what it is,” she added. “No bill is everything. We cannot miss this opportunity.”

But the Speaker also laid down a marker, saying she would not bring the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure framework to the House floor until her party cemented an agreement on the larger social benefits bill. That reassured progressives.

“I’m somewhat encouraged by something the Speaker just told us, which is that we wouldn’t be asked to vote on the BIF unless and until we have rock-solid assurance that the same reconciliation bill is going to pass the House and the Senate and that it’s all locked down,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) told The Hill, referring to the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Now what that looks like, how it proceeds, I don’t think anyone knows yet,” he said. “But that’s reassuring that leadership understands that the votes and the politics and everything that prevented that [infrastructure] vote from going a few weeks ago are still the same.”

Pelosi’s message to members comes during a make-or-break week for Biden’s agenda. The president has been appealing to Democrats to strike a deal on his roughly $2 trillion package to aid families, students and workers and tackle climate change before he flies to Europe on Thursday for a global climate summit.

Biden has argued that the U.S. will not be in a position to pressure other nations to curb carbon emissions and fight climate change unless it is taking steps to do so at home.  

“There’s not that much more time. We have to have decisions largely today, a little bit into tomorrow so we can proceed,” Pelosi told reporters leaving the caucus meeting. 

About “90 percent” of Biden’s Build Back Better package is written, the Speaker said. 

“What’s still left on the table?” a reporter asked.  

“I think it’s pretty self-evident,” she replied.

For one, Democrats still don’t have a price tag for the package. One of the holdouts, centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is pushing for $1.5 trillion, but Biden wants something closer to $2 trillion.

And Democratic lawmakers in the meeting said leadership did not mention a specific dollar amount in the room.

There are also a host of unresolved issues, including whether a Medicare expansion will include dental coverage.  

Tags Build Back Better Climate change Filibuster Jared Huffman Joe Biden Joe Manchin Medicare Nancy Pelosi

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