Pelosi: Bill issues could be resolved by ‘end of the day’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday after huddling with Democrats that the handful of outstanding issues holding up President Biden’s mammoth social and climate spending package “could be resolved by the end of the day.”
“I’m not announcing a vote,” she told reporters as she left the meeting, “but I did say that this could be resolved by the end of the day.”
The Speaker’s prediction was sunnier than that of many of her rank-and-file members, who for weeks have seen deadlines come and go on two key pillars of Biden’s domestic agenda: the Build Back Better package and the bipartisan infrastructure package.
“I can sit here and I can bullshit you, but the real answer is there was no clarity,” one House Democrat grumbled as he left the caucus meeting.
Pelosi and her leadership team have been trying to project optimism on the $1.75 trillion package, even as Biden and the party have struggled for weeks to strike a deal on the social spending plan to aid families, students, workers and the elderly.
In the closed-door meeting, Pelosi informed members that she hopes the remaining unresolved issues will be ironed out Tuesday and that the Rules Committee will be able to mark up legislative text of Build Back Better as early as Wednesday. That would set up a floor vote on both the infrastructure and reconciliation packages by the end of the week.
“Hopefully, [the negotiators] will finish tonight. I’m being optimistic,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), a member of Pelosi’s leadership team. But Dingell added: “I think we’ve got to act this week.”
Most of the Build Back Better legislation is written, but moderates and progressives are racing to wrap up negotiations on several big issues.
They hope a deal can be reached on language to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, but only for older drugs that are no longer under the “exclusivity period.”
Democratic negotiators are also trying to resolve some sticking points on the climate portion of the package, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), citing some reservations from centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
And House Democrats, pushed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, are writing legislative language for a number of immigration reform provisions totaling around $100 billion. They are trying to ensure the immigration provisions can pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian and comply with that chamber’s Byrd Rule.
“We need to keep all the options on the table for immigration, so that when the parliamentarian rules, we will have those options on the table,” Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters.
“That’s what we’re working on, get as much as we can in, and I believe that we’re going to get a resolution on that.”
Mike Lillis contributed.