A group of moderate House Democrats on Tuesday urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill, just passed in the Senate, up for a standalone vote and to provide more details on how the upcoming budget reconciliation package will affect inflation and the national debt, which is over $28 trillion.
“After years of waiting, the country cannot afford unnecessary delays to finally deliver on a physical infrastructure package,” the letter says.
As the bipartisan infrastructure bill moves to the House for a vote and the Senate begins consideration of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, the group of moderates say they have concerns about specifics parts of the reconciliation package and questions they would like answered, writing, “These specifics are crucial, particularly given the combined threat of rising inflation, national debt, and the trillions recently, and appropriately, allocated to the COVID-19 emergency.”
The moderates’ concerns are only one challenge of many that House Democrats face in the coming weeks to try to pass any more spending bills, with GOP members vehemently opposing additional spending and progressives insisting that the bipartisan bill be dependent on the $3.5 trillion bill.
Pelosi appears to be in step with progressives in her party and said she will hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill only after the Senate passes the reconciliation bill, and she reiterated this in a Tuesday statement.
“The House will continue to work with the Senate to ensure that our priorities For The People are included in the final infrastructure and reconciliation packages, in a way that is resilient and will Build Back Better.”
At her Aug. 6 press briefing, Pelosi was asked why she wants to hold the bipartisan bill up until the reconciliation package is passed in the Senate and have the House vote on both pieces of legislation together.
“No, I said very clearly: this is Build Back Better. The president has said he has a vision, and we share that vision. And it’s about Building Back Better. So, whatever you can achieve in a bipartisan way, bravo. We salute it. We applaud it. We hope that it will pass soon. But, at the same time, we’re not going forward with leaving people behind,” said Pelosi. Citing provisions from the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, she said, “Whether it’s early universal pre-K, which I love, which is family and medical leave. … All of these things are urgent, and we’re going to get them done together.”
Progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in the House and senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have made similar statements.
However, in order to pass, the reconciliation bill will need all Democrats in the Senate and most Democrats in the House to support it because it has no support from the Republican side. With moderates questioning the reconciliation bill, this could put not just the $3.5 trillion spending at risk of passing, but the bipartisan infrastructure bill as well.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer’s Problem Solvers Caucus is likely to deliver several Republican votes for the infrastructure bill, while Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive group will be able to rally a handful of the “Squad” members to oppose the standalone infrastructure bill.
“As soon as the Senate completes its work, we must bring this bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor for a standalone vote. This once-in-a-century investment deserves its own consideration, without regard to other legislation,” the moderates’ letter says of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. “We stand ready to enact bipartisan infrastructure legislation, and we hope to have your support in delivering this standalone bipartisan victory for the American people.”
The Democrats who signed the letter include Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Jared Golden (D-Maine.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Vicente González (D-Texas), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
Meanwhile, after passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday, the Senate is now debating the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package the rest of this week, and House members are on 24-hour notice to return should Pelosi chose to vote on one or more bills.