A group of House moderates stalled a vote on the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal after demanding the chamber pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill first, Politico reports.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long planned to pass the budget and the infrastructure bills at the same time as a concession to progressives who called for more spending, particularly for climate measures, than the infrastructure bill includes. But a group of 10 moderates led by New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer refused to advance a package including both bills, demanding the House vote on the infrastructure bill first.
Democrats repeatedly huddled on Monday night to try to hammer out a deal to advance the package. Pelosi offered to hold a vote on the budget bill on October 1 but at least five members of the group rejected the plan.
“I’m bewildered by my party’s misguided strategy to make passage of the popular, already-written, bipartisan infrastructure bill contingent upon passage of the contentious, yet-to-be-written, partisan reconciliation bill,” Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, one of the ten centrists, wrote in an op-ed on Monday. “It’s bad policy and, yes, bad politics.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer warned that the standoff would result in “mutually assured destruction.”
"We cannot squander this majority and this Democratic White House by not passing what we need to do," Pelosi told Democrats at a private meeting. "Right now, we have an opportunity to pass something so substantial for our country, so transformative we haven’t seen anything like it."
Pelosi and the centrist group are nearing a deal that would advance the $3.5 trillion budget bill and set up a September 27 vote on the infrastructure bill.
The Democrats are expected to proceed to a vote as early as Tuesday.
Most, if not all, of the moderates are expected to take the deal, though the terms have not been finalized.
The moderate group is also pushing for guarantees that the budget bill will be closely negotiated with the Senate, where moderate Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have vowed to oppose the $3.5 trillion price tag.
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t land the plane last night, and that you all had to wait. But that’s just part of the legislative progress," Pelosi told colleagues at a private meeting Tuesday. "I think we’re close to landing the plane.”
Sinema, Manchin loom:
Manchin and Sinema have threatened to torpedo the budget bill over concerns that it costs too much.
Manchin, who said the spending was “irresponsible,” joined the moderate group in calling on the House to pass the infrastructure bill first.
"The House should put politics aside and do the same. With so much uncertainty in the world today, one thing is certain, we must unite and pass a critical priority of the American people—improving our nation's infrastructure," he said. "It would send a terrible message to the American people if this bipartisan bill is held hostage. I urge my colleagues in the House to move swiftly to get this once in a generation legislation to the president's desk for his signature.”
A spokesman for Sinema also called for the infrastructure bill to be considering “on its own merits.”
“Proceedings in the U.S. House will have no impact on Kyrsten’s views about what is best for our country - including the fact that she will not support a budget reconciliation bill that costs $3.5 trillion,” the spokesman told Politico.