The House of Representatives is expected to take up the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to garner enough support for it to pass, canceling Thursday’s vote.
While Pelosi had early Thursday expressed confidence in passing the bill before October hit, progressive and moderate Democrats continue to clash in negotiations, with the far-left vowing to block the Senate-passed bill until a massive $3.5 trillion spending bill is passed.
The feud threatens two of President Biden’s top legislative priorities and has so far confounded party leaders, senior congressional staffers, and White House aides who have sought a solution.
Pelosi told reporters as she left the Capitol after midnight “we’re not trillions of dollars apart,” vowing “there will be a vote today.”
Progressives threaten to tank the infrastructure bill if it comes to a vote, with Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) claiming to have enough votes against it.
While they support the infrastructure bill, moderate Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-West Va.) have repeatedly vowed not to vote for a $3.5 trillion price tag for the spending bill.
On Thursday, a July memo signed by Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emerged, revealing the West Virginian requested a topline figure of $1.5 trillion.
Regardless of that topline, Jayapal promised to deliver on the “entirety of the president’s agenda.
“Those negotiations are going on, as I understand it and the White House, the speaker has committed to us that nothing will be agreed to, and because she knows that we have to, we have to sign off on it,” she said.
The same day, Manchin and Sinema were spotted leaving a private meeting on Capitol Hill with White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice. The two have met several times with President Biden at the White House to discuss passing the two pieces of legislation. Manchin said Thursday that he informed the president of his topline “in the last week or so.”
Biden cleared his schedule on Thursday to assist in negotiations after minimal whipping efforts from House Democratic leaders.
Following hours of negotiations, Pelosi revealed debate over the infrastructure bill “concluded,” and all that needed to be discussed Friday was “shaping the reconciliation bill.”
“Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a [$3.5 trillion] reconciliation bill,” she wrote in a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter, calling Thursday a “productive and crucial day.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill has already had its rule passed and its debate has concluded. All of this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass the House and Senate.”
It is unclear if the bipartisan bill will successfully pass on its own Friday.
Biden, who has come under fire for claiming the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Agenda costs zero dollars,” has supported the progressive’s goal of passing the infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation package at the same time.
The president faces losing all the work his administration did with Republicans to pass the infrastructure bill as bipartisan and key items on his agenda through the budget reconciliation, including child care assistance, lowering drug prescription prices and addressing climate change, if the House fails to pass both bills.
Late Thursday, the White House released a statement, thanking Pelosi and Schumer for their “extraordinary leadership” in the negotiations.
“A great deal of progress has been made this week, and we are closer to an agreement than ever. But we are not there yet, and so, we will need some additional time to finish the work, starting tomorrow morning first thing,” the statement read.
“While Democrats do have some differences, we share common goals of creating good union jobs, building a clean energy future, cutting taxes for working families and small businesses, helping to give those families breathing room on basic expenses—and doing it without adding to the deficit, by making those at the top pay their fair share.”