WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Monday that passage of the $550 billion infrastructure bill must not wait for President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar safety net bill, saying the larger package is not yet ready for a vote. A private caucus meeting was held by Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which she stated that the party must make difficult decisions because the dynamics have changed, and Democrats have not yet agreed on a spending level.
“I told all of you that we wouldn’t go on to the [infrastructure bill until] we had the reconciliation bill passed by the Senate. We were right on schedule to do all of that, until 10 days ago, a week ago, when I heard the news that this number had to come down,” Pelosi said, according to the source. “It all changed, and so our approach had to be revised.
” We had to adapt to the changes that were required. We cannot say that we won’t do BIF until the Senate passes the bill,” she stated, abbreviating Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.
These remarks are a major reversal for Pelosi who in June promised that the House would not vote on the infrastructure bill unless the Senate had passed it.
The development suggests that the vote on Senate’s infrastructure bill will take place in the House on Thursday. This is regardless of whether there is a deal for the separate bill. Progressives have demanded their votes.
But, it is unclear if the House can pass the infrastructure bill.
Progressive House Democrats have threatened to vote down the infrastructure bill if the vote is held Thursday before the mega-bill is completed, fearing that centrist Democrats would seek to shrink or kill the larger bill if the bipartisan infrastructure measure passes.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus maintained that position Monday evening following the meeting. She said that House progressives were ready to vote down Thursday’s infrastructure bill.
” We need the reconciliation bill and so this situation is where the vastly vast, vastly vast majority of Democrats want the president’s agenda to be accomplished,” she stated on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow show.” Rachel, it can’t be a promise made in pink. It must be a bill that has been written, with the legislative text written, numbers agreed to and everything agreed to. “
Pelosi stated that the Senate and the House would have to agree to the larger bill before a vote can be held. This is a difficult task because party leaders are still trying to settle a variety of disagreements among Democrats. They have thin majorities in both the House and Senate over policy and price tag. They are unlikely to win Republican support for this bill.
‘Both bills are incredibly important’
Despite her progressive roots, Pelosi has a history of protecting centrist members, who tend to represent swing districts and therefore decide whether Democrats hold the House majority. Pelosi’s new position is as centrists are eager to campaign for a bipartisan accomplishment and go home to vote on the infrastructure bill.
After the caucus meeting was over, the centrist Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) stated that leaders had conveyed the message “that we all have to work together and get it done — it’s all about unity and both bills are extremely important. The battle over the $3.5 Trillion price tag is centered on Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, centrist Democrats who have insisted that it be reduced. They have not yet named their price, which has delayed the negotiations.
Manchin and Sinema are both expected to go to the White House and meet with Biden on Tuesday, sources familiar with their plans said.
Manchin, asked repeatedly by NBC News on Monday, declined to say whether he would be comfortable with a $2 trillion spending level. He demanded means testing, adding work requirements to benefit programs and lowering the income thresholds.
“I represent a lot of good people. We aren’t concerned about the entitlement mentality or rewarding mentality. It’s more important to take care of those who can’t care for themselves. That’s it. Manchin stated that there is so much good stuff there that we are still diligently working.”
Manchin also indicated that he would not be moved to support a bigger reconciliation bill if House progressives vote down the infrastructure bill this week. He stated that he believed it would pass, even if it didn’t this week.
“I’ll guarantee you this: The infrastructure bill will pass before November 2022, before the election,” he said. “I’ll guarantee that bill will be passed before November 2022. “
Democratic leaders face a towering challenge to achieve a deal on the mega-bill by Thursday, which would unlock progressive votes to pass the infrastructure bill.
Biden, D-N.Y., spoke Monday with Pelosi. According to the White House, the three leaders agreed on Monday that it was necessary to continue working on legislation that reflects the President’s vision. On Tuesday, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Majority Whip, stated that he believes there’s a way to reach a deal.
“I can’t speak to the House, that’s Speaker Pelosi’s territory,” he said on MSNBC. “But in Senate, I believe there’s a path, and this week may be that way. “