11 senators urge House to pass $3.5T package before infrastructure bill
A group of 11 Democratic senators is urging party leadership to stay on course with its original “dual track” plan to pass a $3.5 trillion social spending bill in both chambers before taking up a bipartisan infrastructure deal in the House.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others in issuing the statement on Wednesday afternoon.
The senators said they voted to pass a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure bill in August with “the clear commitment” that the deal would move alongside the Democrats’ larger spending plan.
They said passing the smaller physical infrastructure bill in the House before the social spending plan, which will move through the budget reconciliation process to bypass a GOP filibuster, “would be in violation of that agreement.”
“Congress must not undercut the president’s proposals that will create new opportunities for America’s families and workers,” they said. “The House of Representatives should wait to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the budget reconciliation bill, which enacts the rest of the President’s Build Back Better agenda, is sent to the president’s desk.”
The joint statement adds to a cacophony of demands from Democrats over which piece of legislation should be prioritized as Congress faces fast-approaching spending deadlines.
Party leaders had previously set their sights on pushing the social spending package through the House alongside the bipartisan bill before the end of September after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised moderates a vote on the infrastructure package by Sept. 27.
But as Democrats struggle to wrap up the social safety net package before that date, progressives have threatened to withhold their support for the smaller bill if Pelosi forces a vote on it on its own.
In their statement on Wednesday, the senators expressed support for progressives who say they won’t vote for the bipartisan deal until the social spending bill passes.
“That is what we agreed to, it’s what the American people want, and it’s the only path forward for this Congress,” they said.
Earlier this month, 13 House committees finished crafting their portions of the massive spending plan, which is expected to unlock funding for tuition-free community college, universal pre-K and a host of other party-backed priorities key to the president’s economic agenda.
However, disagreements remain among Democrats over Medicare expansion, prescription drug reform, the child tax credit and how to pay for the whole package.
As Congress also works to hammer out a path forward on preventing a government shutdown and taking action on the nation’s debt limit, it remains unclear just when the House will move the reconciliation passage.
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