House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed a Thursday vote on the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure plan after progressives refused to support it until the Senate holds up its side of an agreement to advance the bill at the same time as President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, The New York Times reports.
Pelosi insisted throughout the day that the House was headed for a Thursday vote despite no assurances from Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that they would support the reconciliation bill. Pelosi and Democratic leaders previously agreed to advance both bills at the same time but Pelosi later agreed to hold an infrastructure vote this week in exchange for a group of rogue House moderates backing a vote to advance the Build Back Better framework.
The infrastructure bill includes about $550 billion in new funding for physical infrastructure but progressives balked after it excluded key climate change funding and other provisions pushed by Biden.
“Nobody should be surprised that we are where we are, because we’ve been telling you that for three and a half months,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal.
Manchin wants to cut bill to $1.5 trillion:
Manchin and Sinema have long balked at the $3.5 trillion price tag but have refused to say what they would support. Amid pressure from progressives, Manchin finally relented on Thursday and said he would support a bill that spends no more than $1.5 trillion.
“I’m trying to make sure they understand that I’m at 1.5 trillion,” Manchin said after meeting with Biden and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer. “I don’t see a deal tonight, I really don’t.”
Manchin supports some of the proposed tax hikes in the bill but has insisted that programs to help the poor are means-tested and has pushed back on provisions to fight climate change and expand Medicare coverage.
Sinema, on the other hand, has not said what she would support but opposes the proposed tax hikes on the rich and corporations.
Both senators vowed to continue to negotiate in “good faith.”
Progressives want budget vote first:
Jayapal, who has held her more than 90-member bloc together to help preserve Biden’s agenda, said she wants a Senate vote on the reconciliation bill first, not just an agreement on the framework, before the House votes on infrastructure.
"I have consistently said that we need a vote in the Senate, because I want to make sure that there are no delays, that there are no mix ups, that there are no mixed understandings about what the deal is," Jayapal said. "I am open to hearing what other options there are for that, but I am very concerned about legislative language holding things up, vote-a-rama changing the deal, and those are the things that have to be addressed, along with the content. So it's both content and process."