Pelosi presses ahead on vote without Manchin buy-in

House Democrats said Wednesday they were switching tactics and plowing ahead with a vote on President Biden’s sweeping social spending and climate package later this week, without getting a commitment from key Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that he will support the legislation.

For weeks, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team had worked to strike a deal with Manchin and fellow centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on the front end before bringing Biden’s Build Back Better plan to the floor, a strategy Democrats believed would smooth the bill’s path to the president’s desk.

But Manchin has refused to sign off on the package, saying Wednesday that the GOP’s electoral victories in Virginia on Tuesday should cause Democrats to pump the brakes of Biden’s $1.75 trillion spending plan.

Frustrated House leaders instead pressed their foot on the gas pedal, pledging to bring both the Senate-passed infrastructure package and social safety net bill to the floor.

The House Rules Committee, which is controlled by Pelosi, was meeting Wednesday evening on a still-evolving 2,135-page Build Back Better bill that was revised to include new immigration, tax, prescription drug pricing and other provisions.

Pelosi announced earlier in the day that House Democrats were putting four weeks of permanent paid family and medical leave back in the package, much to the chagrin of Manchin.

“We’re gonna get ‘em done,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), a Pelosi ally, said of the pair of bills after leaving a 90-minute closed-door Democratic caucus meeting. “I think we’re together. I think there’s been a lot of progress. We’re gonna get it done.”

A Pelosi spokesman also confirmed that votes will be held this week and that the Speaker plans to bring Build Back Better to the floor first. But she has vowed to hold votes on Biden’s agenda in the past, only to run into opposition from her own party that forced her to delay the votes.

A handful of moderates, led by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), are demanding a score from the Congressional Budget Office on the social spending bill before they agree to vote for it.

“Her well of confidence remains undiscovered by all of us who seek it,” said one moderate Democrat.

“There is risk because it’s got to pass the floor here, and then once it gets to the Senate, it’s got to survive over there,” said a second House Democrat. “It shows how much everybody wants to see movement.”

Pelosi’s change in strategy underscores the desire by House Democrats to show some kind of progress on Biden’s economic agenda after months of messy, intraparty infighting over policy and political tactics. Both the House and Senate are slated to be on recess next week for Veterans Day, and rank-and-file Democrats are desperate to have a successful vote that they can talk about with constituents and voters back home — especially after their big loss in Virginia.

But it’s unclear how things would play out in the Senate if the House manages to pass Build Back Better. House Democrats said such a move would put pressure on Manchin to reject the package and bring the two sides closer to a deal that’s been elusive for months.

A vote is “an indication of what the House is willing to support; obviously there is another part of the process in the Senate,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) told The Hill after the caucus meeting. “You know, at some point you have to take action.”

Tags Build Back Better Act Gregory Meeks Joaquin Castro Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Nancy Pelosi Paid Family Leave Stephanie Murphy
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