House Democrats tee up $1.2T infrastructure bill debate amid deep party divide

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House Democrats tee up $1.2T infrastructure bill debate amid deep party divide

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill will come to the floor for a vote next week despite its fate being held hostage by Democratic progressives threatening to tank the bill if a sweeping $3.5 trillion social spending measure doesn’t pass first. 

“It will come up on Monday,” the California Democrat told reporters on Friday. 

Pelosi’s assurances come as roughly a dozen House centrist Democrats threaten to derail the massive reconciliation package if Democratic Party leaders don’t make good on their agreement to bring the bipartisan bill to address “hard infrastructure” up for a vote by Sept. 27.

Centrists struck a deal in August with leaders to hold a vote by Monday in exchange for their votes on a budget to allow them to move forward with a separate massive reconciliation bill. 

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
“Let me be clear, we’ll have the votes,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

But hard-left lawmakers have held strong in their position that they will withhold their support on the bipartisan bill, accusing centrists of creating an “arbitrary deadline” for its passage. Several progressives have argued they would lose leverage on the larger package to address issues like climate change and the expansion of social safety net programs if the $1.2 trillion bill is sent to the president’s desk first.  

“I didn’t come to Congress to vote on certain days, I came to Congress to vote on the content of bills so, whatever happens Monday, unless they have a lot of action from the people who aren’t quite there,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) told The Post. 

“Don’t forget, hundreds of us are ready to get both of those done. There’s a handful or two of people who aren’t quite there unless they show some more cards. I fully believe both these bills are going to get done. But what day they happen, I don’t really care.

“No one wants to go back to their constituents and say they didn’t deliver childcare, they didn’t deliver an extension of a tax break for 40 million American families for children. So I’m confident everything’s gonna work out,” he added. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in the Senate.
Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP

The assurances from Democratic leaders that the bill will come to the floor comes as the House Budget Committee is slated to begin marking up the reconciliation bill over the weekend — which is also expected to see a vote next week —  but multiple members cast doubt on Pelosi standing by the timeline promised to moderates, telling The Post that the Speaker doesn’t traditionally bring bills to the floor that are going to fail. 

Moderates have expressed confidence in Pelosi’s ability to get progressives on board, adding they believe it’s a critical win for the Biden administration. 

Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chairman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) voiced optimism about the bill’s odds of garnering the votes needed to send it to the president’s desk despite the threats from the far left. 

“Let me be clear, we’ll have the votes,” he told reporters. 

While the $1.2 trillion bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate with bipartisan support, moderate Republicans said they expect roughly a dozen members, with the number potentially climbing to 20, to vote in favor of the bill — which is unlikely to provide the votes needed to make up for the number of progressives willing to tank the bill. 

Moderate Democrats have also voiced reservations about a number of provisions expected to be in the reconciliation package and the timeline, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) calling for Democrats to “hit the pause button” and reportedly telling the White House he would like to see a bill closer to the $1.5 trillion social spending bill. 

“Well, there would be a lot of work that would have to be done between now and then to have a reconciliation bill that meets some of the requirements that she has agreed to which is that it’s pre-conference with the Senate,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) told reporters.

“But, you know, I’m sure we’re all working really hard to see if we can make something like that happen. But unclear whether those negotiations are going on in order to do that.”

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