Moderates threaten stalemate over vote on budget and infrastructure


Nine moderate House Democrats told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that they will not vote in favor of a budget resolution intended to pave the way for the passage of a $3.5 trillion social policy package later this year until the Senate approves an infrastructure bill. . It was signed into law.

pledge In a speech released early Friday, is a major rift that threatens the carefully designed, double-track effort by Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration to enact a trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure deal and an even more ambitious – but partisan – measure of social policy. The nine House members are more than enough to block consideration of the budget outline in the House where Democrats have a three-seat majority.

The Senate passed the infrastructure bill on Tuesday By 69 votes, including 19 Republicans. Then he agreed, in a party-line vote early Wednesday, $3.5 trillion budget decision That, if passed by the House, would allow Democrats in both houses to put together a social policy bill this fall without fear of Republican disruption in the Senate.

If they hold their ground, Democratic leaders and President Biden face their first major test in the process. More than half of the progressive bloc in Congress, numbering about 100 members, took the opposite position, saying they They will not vote for the infrastructure bill Until they have a measure of social policy that funds their priorities: climate change, education, health care, family leave, childcare, and elderly care.

Ms. Pelosi called the House early in the summer recess to consider a budget decision in the week of August 23. To appease progressives, Ms. Pelosi promised that she would not bring the infrastructure bill to a vote in the House until the Senate passed the social policy bill. Liberal progressives fear that once the infrastructure bill is signed, moderate Democrats in the House and Senate will withdraw their support for far-reaching social policy action.

But this social policy bill may not pass until late in the fall, if that happens, given the party’s 50-50 split in the Senate. Moderate House Democrats say delaying the infrastructure vote risks unforeseen events derailing it.

With the livelihoods of toiling American families at stake, we simply cannot afford months of unnecessary delay and risk squandering this one-in-a-century bipartisan infrastructure package. Message, which was signed by Representative Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., as the first signatory. “It’s time to throw shovels into the ground and work on people.”

With promised defections from the progressive caucus, Ms. Pelosi appears to be facing a quandary, lacking the votes to either deliver the infrastructure bill to the president’s office or advance the budget resolution needed to protect the final legislation from obstruction by Republicans.

On Friday, Ms Pelosi was standing by her position that “hard infrastructure” legislation, which funds roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, transit and broadband, should be packaged with a social policy bill, or what Democrats call “soft infrastructure” — welfare projects. Social and climate change, financed by large tax increases on wealthy individuals and companies.

Top leadership aides have framed it as a numbers game: Dozens of Democrats say they won’t vote for one without the other, versus the nine registered who want to act now on infrastructure.

But it should blink one side.

So far, most Democrats in Congress have been optimistic that both measures can garner sufficient support.

“This is President Biden’s agenda, this is the Democrats’ agenda, and this is what we have worked on and we have to deliver,” Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a leader in the Progressive Caucus, said of the social policy bill. “It’s important to us that we don’t miss the mark, and I don’t see a conflict.”

But her moderate colleagues do. “We will not consider a vote on the budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law,” they wrote.

This feeling may exceed nine. And more moderate Democrats, who declined to sign, said they desperately want an immediate vote on the infrastructure bill.

“This is an infrastructure bill that gets repeated once in a generation, and I think we should hit while the iron is hot,” said Representative Elisa Slotkin, D-Michigan. We must bring it to the House of Representatives and vote on it as soon as possible. “

The draft letter was signed by Mr. Gotheimer and Representatives Philemon Villa of Texas, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Ed Kiss of Hawaii, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Caroline Bordeaux of Georgia, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Jim Costa of California . .

Almost all of them come from swing regions or regions of the country that have turned toward former President Donald J. Trump. In 2018, Mr. Gottheimer won a seat that had long been held by Republicans. Golden, from conservative northern Maine, often withdrew from the Democratic position.

Mrs. Purdue, of suburban Atlanta, was the only Democrat in 2020 to win a Republican district. When Georgia’s legislature and Republican governor begin to redraw district lines, it will be one of the most vulnerable Democrats in 2022.

Three of the nine are Hispanics from Texas, which has seen a marked shift in Hispanic voting toward Mr. Trump.

The nine could take major political risks by putting their names on paper. As one leadership aide said, the legislative bid is a package deal, not a la carte, and they will face enormous pressure over the next two weeks to cancel.

“That’s now up to Democrats,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey, who has toured infrastructure projects with Mr Gottheimer and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as the administration has been pressing lawmakers to go ahead. “We have a large and diverse Democratic caucus, and the important thing is to get all of this passed with great Democratic support.”

“The only thing we know for sure as Democrats is that the responsibility lies with us,” he added.

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