WASHINGTON — Progressive and moderate House Democrats continued their weeks-long brawl Thursday on the $1 trillion infrastructure act and the $3.5 trillion social spending bill — the Build Back Better Act. Both part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, the two bills had been planned for back-to-back votes until House Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi unlinked them Monday night.
Pelosi, along with moderates in her caucus, was confident that Congress would pass both bills.
Progressives don’t want to reduce the scope of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which contains funding for the social safety net, child care, healthcare, climate and more. Their votes are need to keep a Democratic majority that can pass both bills. Thursday morning, moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the highest he’d like the bill to go is $1.5 trillion – and because the Democrats have only a one-vote majority in the Senate, Manchin’s vote is crucial.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., predicted the Progressive Caucus would vote for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the end because it would fund numerous water, bridge and highway projects.
“It starts tonight with this historic infrastructure package,” said Gottheimer. “We’re going to get that over the finish line and continue our work with reconciliation.”
But Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal signaled she wouldn’t let infrastructure pass without a firm yes on the much larger social spending bill.
Jayapal, D-Wash., said she told Speaker Pelosi she was committed to the spending bill. “I’m happy to stay here and keep working,” she said.
“This is a constitutionally protected, intensely personal choice.” (Mary Yang/MNS)