Democrats expect Pelosi will reschedule infrastructure vote

Two Democratic senators say they expect Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to cancel a scheduled vote Thursday on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying she will not have the votes to get it passed.

The two Democratic senators said they had been in contact with House members and that they did not believe the votes would be there for the bill with at least two-dozen progressives planning to vote “no” on infrastructure without a separate vote on a larger social spending package.

“They will not pass it on Thursday. Enough of the House members understand that they would be gutting the Build Back Better agenda,” said a Democratic lawmaker familiar with the internal discussions.

“Nancy will pull it. We’re pretty sure she won’t put it up for a vote. She’ll meet with the moderates and she’ll say, ‘Listen, I don’t put these things up when the votes aren’t there. It doesn’t help your cause to see it fail, it doesn’t help the president to see it fail,’” one of the two senators said.

Pelosi had promised the bill would receive a vote on Monday and then delayed the vote to Thursday. 

On Wednesday, she said the vote was still scheduled but acknowledged that as Speaker, she could shift the schedule. She also reiterated that she will not bring a bill to the floor that does not have the votes to pass.

Pelosi said Wednesday that she won’t move one bill without the other.

“We’re doing it simultaneously,” she said.

Progressives have been pressing for two centrist Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), to specify what they can support in the larger social spending plan, which Democrats want to move under budget reconciliation rules. 

Progressives have worried that centrists will oppose the big spending package if the infrastructure bill is approved by the House and sent to President Biden’s desk.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned progressives during a conference call Tuesday that they will completely lose their leverage with moderate Democrats if they allow the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to pass the House.

“There was an agreement in terms of a dual track and that I’m not happy to see that agreement reneged on, and second of all that we’ll lose our leverage in passing a strong reconciliation bill here if they were to pass the infrastructure bill,” Sanders said, recounting his message to House progressives.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said last week that nearly 50 progressives are ready to defeat the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless there’s a solid deal with moderates on the reconciliation package.

The Hill’s whip list counts only seven House Republicans who say they are willing to buck their leadership and vote for it.

Pelosi on Wednesday morning said that Sinema and Manchin will have to agree to legislative language, not just a vague framework, to pave the way for the $1 trillion bipartisan package to pass.

“We come to a place where we have agreement in legislative language — not just principle, in legislative language — that the president supports,” she said. “It has to be standard.”

Manchin, however, on Wednesday said it’s unrealistic to expect progressives and moderates to reach agreement on legislative language by tomorrow.

“That won’t happen,” Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju when asked about Pelosi’s condition that there needs to be a deal on legislative language for the reconciliation package before moving the bipartisan infrastructure package.

He argued that negotiations on the reconciliation bill can continue productively after the $1 trillion bipartisan bill passes the House.

“All we need to do is pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, sit down, and start negotiating in good faith. That’s it,” he said. 

Mike Lillis contributed.