Democratic leaders have opted to delay a vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in the House as they faced a threat of an embarrassing defeat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided to cancel the vote on bipartisan legislation already passed in the Senate on Thursday, Sept. 30, New York Post reported.
The key reason behind their decision, according to the Post, is that the Democratic leadership failed to garner enough support for passage after the party’s far-left flank vowed to block the measure until there is movement on a massive $3.5 trillion social spending bill.
Earlier on Thursday, Pelosi remained confident that the $1.2 trillion bill would pass on her schedule, despite minimal whipping efforts from Democratic leaders.
Hours after postponing the vote on Thursday night, Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues to inform them that “Discussions continue with the House, Senate and White House to reach a bicameral framework agreement to Build Back Better through a reconciliation bill.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill has already had its rule passed and its debate has concluded. All of this momentum brings us closer to shaping the reconciliation bill in a manner that will pass the House and Senate,” she wrote.
The Democratic leadership had hoped they could agree on a framework for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill so that they could convince House progressives to vote for the infrastructure bill. But according to The Hill, progressives worry that if they help pass the bipartisan infrastructure measure before the reconciliation framework is agreed upon, centrists will not help them to pass the reconciliation bill packed with progressive priorities.
But a deal on a framework with two key Democratic centrists, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), remained elusive through Thursday night.
Manchin maintained that he is pushing for a top-line spending figure of only $1.5 trillion for the social benefits package, claiming that “we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March.”
“What I have made clear to the President (Joe Biden) and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” he said. “Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue to pay an unavoidable inflation tax.”
Manchin’s statement is likely to galvanize more progressives to vote against the infrastructure bill.
According to New York Post, the progressives in the House have been encouraged in their intransigence by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who cautioned that progressives would lose leverage if the infrastructure bill were passed first.
Now, when Democrats hold a majority of eight seats in the House, if just three Democrats vote against any measure, they will be defeated, assuming all Republicans hold firm.