House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed a threat from a group of centrist Democrats and scheduled a vote on the Democrats budget bill for next week, NBC News reports.
Pelosi earlier this year vowed to advance the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget proposal at the same time as the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill to appease progressives, who threatened to torpedo the infrastructure package unless both chambers passed the budget bill as well.
But last week, a group of nine House moderates, enough to sink either bill, threatened to block the budget bill unless Pelosi holds an immediate vote on the infrastructure bill, which would threaten the passage of the larger package.
Pelosi on a call with House leaders this week shrugged off the threat and moved ahead with plans to advance both bills as early as Monday.
"This is no time for amateur hour," Pelosi said on the call. “There is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned.”
“For the first time, America’s children have leverage. I will not surrender that leverage,” she added.
Dem leaders urge unity:
House Democratic leaders on Tuesday urged unity among their caucus.
"I would hope that none of us would do or say anything that would jeopardize passing these bills,” Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, told colleagues. "A lot of us need to hold hands. We need to be protecting each other and march together.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told members that they should expect procedural votes when they return from recess on Monday to advance a rule that combines the budget resolution, the infrastructure bill, and voting rights legislation.
"This is a real opportunity to pursue an agenda, and it is important that we have unanimity, and I believe we have it,” he said. "Remember the psychology of consensus. We are in this together, we have the leader of our party, and we are pursuing the attainment of that agenda on behalf of the people for the people.”
Pelosi gets Biden’s support:
President Joe Biden has endorsed Pelosi’s dual-track plan and the White House doubled down after the moderates’ threat.
"The President strongly supports the Rule, which provides the mechanism to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better plan, and voting rights legislation to the floor," said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. "All three are critical elements of the President's agenda, and we hope that every Democratic member supports this effort to advance these important legislative actions."
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the leader of the centrist group, reiterated later that the House should pass the infrastructure bill immediately.
"From what I'm hearing from folks in my district, including labor, it's clear that we cannot afford to wait months for this once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment," he said. "I'm confident we can sit down together and work this out."