Liberal Democrats on Tuesday, Sept. 28, said they would strike down the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill unless conservative-leaning Democrats change their stance over a broader social policy and climate package.
Using the infrastructure bill as a leveler, the liberals demand that Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) show loyal support for a broader social safety net package, known as the Build Back Better Act.
“If she were to call the bill, it will fail,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a close ally to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), according to The Hill.
“Not because the [Congressional] Progressive Caucus, people like me, aren’t willing to vote for it. But … we had an agreement that we were going to get these two pieces [together],” Schakowsky added.
The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act facilitates child care, environmental action, affordable housing, immigration reform, and prescription price reductions.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed the Senate vote last month. It looks to fund new climate resilience and broadband activities as well as repair roads and bridges.
Progressives said they would not support the Senate-passed infrastructure package unless it omits several of their top goals.
“Let me be clear: bringing the so-called bipartisan infrastructure plan to a vote without the #BuildBackBetter Act at the same time is a betrayal,” Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said on Tuesday, according to The New York Times.
Ms. Pelosi previously stated that the House would not take up the infrastructure bill until the larger bill had been passed.
However, she has effectively dissociated the two legislations recently, claiming that the party needs more time to work out its disagreements over the larger package, which conservative-leaning Democrats have criticized as being too expensive.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) “… has hope that party leaders could nail down an agreement by week’s end … “What we’ve said in the House is that we don’t want to pass a bill that can’t pass the Senate. That’s a somewhat useless act.” Manchin and Sinema, he added, are “critical” to the success of the effort.
The pressure has again brought in uncertainties over whether the Thursday vote would be delayed again or not. Pelosi has built her reputation of not bringing any legislature to the floor, knowing that it does not have the votes to pass.
On Wednesday, she said the vote would go on as planned but still teased a potential change to the schedule, according to The Hill.
Problem Solvers Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) was confident there would be no further delay.
“We’re voting Thursday,” he said. “I believe at the end of the day people will vote yes when it comes down to 2 million … jobs and these critical investments in infrastructure.”
Schakowsky, meanwhile, believes Pelosi would postpone it.
“I’ve never seen her bring a bill to the floor that’s going to fail. It will fail if she does,” she stated.
“They will not pass it on Thursday. Enough of the House members understand that they would be gutting the Build Back Better agenda,” a Democratic lawmaker who has learned of the internal discussion said.
Pelosi indicated on Wednesday that she would not move one bill without the passage of the other.
“We’re doing it simultaneously,” the House Speaker noted.