Top Democrat: ‘Virtually no chance’ $3.5T bill will be finished before October

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said it’s highly unlikely that Democrats will finish their $3.5 trillion social spending package by the end of the month.

“There’s virtually no chance of getting it done next week,” Yarmuth said during a CNN appearance on Wednesday morning.

His comments come as Democrats scramble to finalize the massive spending package that would advance key parts of President Biden’s domestic agenda while keeping Democratic lawmakers united.

Party leaders had previously set their sights on pushing the spending package through the House before the end of September alongside a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill already passed by the Senate.

But with the larger measure unlikely to hit the floor before a Monday deadline for a vote on the Senate-passed bill, progressives are threatening to withhold their support for the bipartisan package.

Yarmuth on Wednesday said that “there is no deadline” to pass the reconciliation package and expressed concerns “that the issues are getting conflated a little bit in terms of the pressure.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last month promised moderates a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package by Sept. 27.

Yarmuth said he thinks the best course of action would be for Pelosi to “negotiate her way out of this arbitrary Sept. 27 vote,” adding that he’s confident she would be able to convince moderates and progressives that there is “a lot of good faith being shown” on both sides.

“I actually think that in my conversations with both progressives, and I am a progressive, and the moderates that everybody shares the goals of getting both of these packages done,” he said. “The moderates definitely want access to child care and pre-K education and paid family and medical leave and community college.”

Yarmuth said ultimately, however, moderates will have to vote for the package.

“Ultimately, as I’ve been telling them for four months … I said you can posture all you want, and you should because you should stand up for your principles and your priorities, but ultimately you’re all going to vote for this,” he said. 

Tensions have been simmering between different factions of the House in recent weeks as spending negotiations hit a fever pitch over the forthcoming reconciliation package, which is expected to pave the way for funding for tuition-free community college, universal pre-K and other party-backed priorities.

In recent days, moderates have stepped up their threats to vote against the reconciliation package, warning they’ll vote with Republicans to down the measure in the House, where Democrats can afford only three defections to pass their plan, if progressives tank the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Yarmuth appeared to brush off those threats on Wednesday, saying he doesn’t “know where their leverage is right now.”

“If they say, ‘Well, we’re not going to vote for the big package if we don’t get our vote on the 27th,’ they’re going to have a long time to stew on that,” he said.

Tags Joe Biden John Yarmuth Nancy Pelosi
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