With the vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill only days away, Democrats are growing disappointed that President Biden has not assisted in negotiating between the warring left and moderate flanks of his party to pass that $1.2 trillion measure and the president’s signature $3.5 trillion spending bill.
Before the end of September, Congress is looking to pass both pieces of legislation, however there is conflict among the Democrats on which one will get a vote first.
“The president needs to pick up the phone and call people,” one moderate Democrat close to talks told Politico, adding that the White House has been in “listening mode” for too long and needs to help pass the vote.
Sunday night, a senior Democratic aide told the outlet “there are a lot of mistakes happening here.”
“There is no whip effort on the BIF yet,” the aide added. “Everything is hanging by a thread. Biden needs to be more engaged.”
Moderates are looking to pass the bipartisan measure to pass first, but progressive Democrats want to vote first on the broad $3.5 trillion spending legislation which contains funding for climate measures, family leave, education and expansion of the social safety net.
While progressives have found Biden and the White House to be in agreement that both bills need to move forward, there has been no action from the administration to vote on the infrastructure bill before the reconciliation budget.
“No one has made a case to progressives or lobbied for them to change their position and vote for it before the Build Back Better Act,” one senior House progressive source told POLITICO. “And in fact the White House, when we were there on Wednesday, was very much in the same position: There was agreement that we need both bills.”
It’s gotten so bad that on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed off her pledge to bring the infrastructure bill to vote on Monday, saying she wouldn’t do it if they didn’t have the votes.
“I’m never bringing to the floor a bill that doesn’t have the votes,” Pelosi said on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“You cannot choose the date. You have to go when you have the votes in a reasonable time, and we will,” she said.
Despite that, she insisted the bill would be passed this week.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, confirmed during an appearance on CNN that the votes aren’t there for the bipartisan deal.
“I don’t believe there will be a vote,” Jayapal said. “The speaker is an incredibly good vote counter, and she knows exactly where her caucus stands, and we’ve been really clear on that.”
Democrats are looking to pass both bills by Thursday.If and when the reconciliation bill passes the House, it faces more trouble in the Senate as. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they will not support a $3.5 trillion spending plan.