Senate

Sanders urges House Democrats to vote against infrastructure bill before reconciliation

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday urged House Democrats to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill until Congress approves the party's reconciliation package, heightening the standoff between moderates and progressives as key components of President Biden's legislative agenda hang in the balance.

Sanders, in a series of tweets posted on Tuesday, said the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday without the reconciliation package would be "in violation of an agreement that was reached within the Democratic Caucus in Congress."

He also said such a move would "end all leverage that we have to pass a major reconciliation bill."

Sanders in August voted in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed 69 to 30 with bipartisan support.

Sanders's strong comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday, during a private caucus meeting, told her Democratic colleagues that a vote on the passage of the Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill cannot wait for the party's multi-trillion dollar reconciliation package, which is still being negotiated among lawmakers, according to NBC News.

She conceded that the final reconciliation package would not be ready by Thursday - when the House is set to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill - despite previous promises that the two crucial pieces of legislation would be passed together.

She specifically said the Senate's demand that the price tag of the $3.5 trillion package "had to come down" threw the timing in question. Moderates, namely Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have said the figure is too high, while progressives are firm in wanting the top line to stay where it is.

The prospect of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passing without the reconciliation package is angering progressives, who fear that moderate members will renege on their commitment to passing the larger package once the infrastructure bill is approved.

A group of 11 Democratic senators - including Sanders, who is the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee - issued a statement last week calling on party leadership to stick with its original "dual track" plan and pass the reconciliation package in both chambers before voting on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House.

They said they backed the infrastructure package in a vote last month with "the clear commitment" that the deal would proceed alongside the reconciliation package, adding that passing the smaller bill without the larger one "would be in violation of that agreement."

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