House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Wednesday that Democrats need to agree among themselves on the text of a major budget bill before the House can vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Her comments appeared to raise the bar for an infrastructure bill to move forward, making it far less likely a vote will occur on Thursday as planned.
Progressive Democrats in the House have threatened to withhold their votes from the infrastructure bill until the House and Senate also pass the Build Back Better bill, which contains major Democratic priorities on paid leave and child care.
In response to a question about the progressive threat, Pelosi implied there does need to be an agreement on “legislative language” for the budget bill in order for the infrastructure vote to occur.
“I think that we come to a place where we have agreement in legislative language ― not just principal ― in legislative language that the president supports,” Pelosi said Wednesday.
Centrist Democrats have insisted the House pass the infrastructure bill this week, and a vote has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Party leaders have said they would pass the infrastructure bill in tandem with the budget, but in the past week Pelosi’s commitment seemed to waver, and progressives have insisted they would tank the infrastructure bill if the vote happened.
Asked Wednesday if she was specifically saying there had to be an agreement on budget bill text before the infrastructure vote, Pelosi said she wanted the two things done “simultaneously.”
But Democrats are struggling to reach an agreement on the budget bill, which has been approved by various House committees while moderate senators, especially Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have withheld their support.
“I can’t keep a commitment that the Senate has made impossible to do,” Pelosi said, “but what I have also said is we’re not proceeding on anything that doesn’t have agreement with the House and the Senate.”
Manchin, for his part, said Wednesday that legislative language “won’t happen” by Thursday.
“All we need to do is pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, sit down, and start negotiating in good faith,” Manchin told CNN’s Manu Raju. “That’s it.”
Pelosi said her aim remains to pass the infrastructure bill on Thursday, but also mentioned that she has the authority to delay the vote.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters that the House should delay its infrastructure vote if the budget bill’s not done by tomorrow.
“I don’t think that there’s anything God-given about tomorrow,” Sanders said. “I think that what in fact needs to happen is that the Senate needs to pass a strong reconciliation bill, and then the House can pass the infrastructure bill. I was never a great fan of picking a particular date in the House. If that is pushed back, I think it’s fine.”
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