WASHINGTON – Weeks of tension between moderate and progressive House Democrats will continue at least one more day, following the delay of a crucial vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. The vote was scheduled for Thursday – but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to recess the House instead of adjourning, meaning Friday would technically be the same legislative day as Thursday.
It’s a move meant to appease moderate Democrats, such as Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who said Thursday that a delay would be a “significant breach in trust that would slow the momentum in moving forward [President Joe Biden’s] agenda.” Pelosi and top moderate Democrats such as Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., had promised multiple times that the vote would occur on Thursday, and Biden ran for presidency counting on his ability to strike deals in Congress. However, if no deal is reached Friday night, Biden’s domestic agenda could be in jeopardy.
Although the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed 69-30 in the Senate, it stalled in the House, where Democratic Party infighting threw its future into uncertainty. Progressive leaders have refused to support the infrastructure bill without “ironclad” assurances that the much larger $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act also would pass – a bill that would provide money for the social safety net, childcare and more.
However, Pelosi has affirmed multiple times that she would not consider a bill that could not pass the Senate, meaning moderate senators like Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have gotten involved in the negotiations. For days, Manchin and Sinema said $3.5 trillion was too high – but on Thursday morning, Manchin revealed his topline number of $1.5 trillion, less than half of what Progressives want.
That $1.5 trillion number has infuriated Progressives, who stood firm on their $3.5 trillion price tag. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., the leader of the House Progressive Caucus, confirmed after a meeting with Pelosi this morning that Progressives would “not be able to vote for the infrastructure bill until the [Build Back Better Act] has passed.”
With no side backing down, all eyes will be on the House Friday night. At a press conference on Thursday, Pelosi also made “assurances for the [Build Back Better Act],” but did not elaborate on the bill’s final price tage. Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy said he would be willing to “go back” to the drawing board and support a new $1 trillion infrastructure bill – as long as it wasn’t associated with a much larger bill like the Build Back Better Act.
(This is a developing story.)