House Progressives are cautiously scaling back on their demands for passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, passed in August by a bipartisan vote in the Senate.
For months, progressives in the lower chamber have broadcasted demands that the House not move to consider the infrastructure bill before passage of the much more expansive budget bill. Progressives insisted that they could not count on their moderate colleagues to pass the budget if the infrastructure bill was already passed.
Now, they are ceding an inch on these demands, saying that they will consider the infrastructure bill with the president’s assurance that the budget bill will pass both chambers.
“My view is that the president’s word, saying, ‘I have the commitment of 50 senators and those 50 senators are going to vote for this bill and here are the details,’ that’s good enough,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I’m confident we will have an agreement. I’m confident that the president will be able to give his word to the House caucus that he has that agreement,” he added.
Another member of the 95-strong caucus of House progressives, Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), agreed.
“I want an assurance from the president, for example, that we will pass this larger social safety net package, because that contains the bulk of his proposals [and] is why he has joined progressives in calling for the passage of both of these bills,” said Jones on CNN.
Like Khanna, Jones was “cautiously optimistic” that the months-long tug of war between moderates and progressives is coming to a close.
He explained, “The speaker has expressed optimism about reaching some agreement this week. I await that proposal, and I’m looking forward to delivering the president’s agenda on behalf of all Americans.”
However, Democrats may yet be a long way off from reaching such an agreement.
At an Oct. 19 luncheon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) raised hopes among Democrats that an agreement was right around the corner.
Schumer then said that there is “universal agreement in the room that we have to come to an agreement” on the reconciliation bill, adding that Democrats hope to reach a “framework” agreement by the end of the week.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) showed the same optimism.
Speaking to reporters after the lunch, she said that holdouts in the party “are walking through what they support [and] what they don’t support.”
“We’re seeing a path,” Stabenow said.
But these hopes were dashed after the weekend deadline came and went with no resolution reached.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), a moderate who has been especially resistant to his party’s demands, told reporters on Thursday that his deal with other Democrats needed more time.
“I think that they’re making good progress,” Manchin said, while explained, “There’s a lot of details. Until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make final decisions until you actually see.”
He continued, “You can have the intent. You have to make sure the text matches the intent.”
“This is not gonna happen any time soon guys,” the West Virginia Democrat warned.
But Khanna indicated that the president sees this period as crunch time to work out a deal.
“The president looked at us in the eye and he said, ‘I need this before I go represent the United States in Glasgow. American prestige is on the line,” Khanna reported the president as saying.
While passage of the infrastructure bill would represent a huge win for President Joe Biden’s agenda, progressives remain adamant that they need some assurance that moderates will not bail on them. As negotiations threaten to drag on, that assurance may be difficult for these progressives to receive before Biden goes to the Glasglow Climate Summit on Oct. 31.