Jayapal threatens to sink latest Pelosi plan on votes

The head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus threatened to shut down Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) plan to vote Friday on an infrastructure bill, releasing a statement sticking to the progressive demand that the bill should only move in tandem with a broader social benefits package that Democrats have sought for months.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said liberals are holding firm to their insistence that both bills move together — a strategy they believe gives them the greatest leverage in negotiations with centrist Democrats when the benefits package moves to the Senate.

Progressives have the numbers to sink the infrastructure bill if it comes up alone — if they stick to that position.

“As we’ve consistently said, there are dozens of our members who want to vote both bills — the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — out of the House together,” Jayapal said in a statement.

A short time later, however Pelosi said she would move forward with the plan to vote Friday on the infrastructure bill. She indicated she thinks enough progressives will back it for it to pass.

The progressive statement was a a warning shot to Pelosi, who just moments earlier had announced tghe plan to vote Friday afternoon on the infrastructure bill and the rule on the larger benefits package — but not the package itself.

By Friday afternoon, after hours of long negotiations in Pelosi’s office in the Capitol, the number of moderate holdouts remained significant enough to prevent the Build Back Better Act from passing.

Jayapal said she’s happy to wait for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to provide its estimate, but won’t budge on infrastructure beforehand.

“A full accounting of the spending and revenue has been provided by the White House, numerous pieces of the legislation have already been scored, and the [Joint Committee on Taxation] has put out analysis that Build Back Better will contribute to reducing the deficit,” Jayapal said.

“However, if our six colleagues still want to wait for a CBO score, we would agree to give them that time — after which point we can vote on both bills together.”

The quick back-and-forth comes after weeks of tense negotiations on the social benefits package, pitting liberals against moderates over the size, scope and timing of the bill.

Friday’s remarkable events marked an escalation in the tensions and frustrations among the Democrats, who are still licking their wounds after a terrible showing in state races around the country on Tuesday.

Some liberals were lashing out at party leaders for even proposing the idea of staging an infrastructure vote without the “family” benefits package in tandem.

“Not OK,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a leading voice for bold climate provisions in the bill. “I have no constructive words to describe my frustration and dismay, if this is really what they are proposing.”

Liberals were not the only lawmakers grumbling.

Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.), a prominent centrist Democrat, is taking issue with the opposition from fellow moderates that has stalled votes throughout the day Friday.

“We will have a CBO score before this bill comes back to us — and it surely will — and we’ll have time to resolve these issues, plain and simple,” Phillips said, referring to the likelihood that the Senate will make changes to the House legislation and send it back to the lower chamber.

“Like many of us here, I’m going restless,” he added. “And last week it was because of my progressive colleagues, and frankly now I’m concerned about some of my colleagues on the other side of the spectrum.”

Updated at 3:53 p.m.

Tags Dean Phillips Jared Huffman Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi Pramila Jayapal

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