Nancy Pelosi plans Friday votes on infrastructure, reconciliation

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday will force a vote on two of President Biden’s domestic priorities: the multitrillion-dollar social welfare package and the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Mrs. Pelosi, a California Democrat, announced the decision late Thursday evening after a day of back-and-forth negotiations between members of her conference.

“Our members are engaged in very thoughtful deliberation with each other,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

It remains to be seen whether every member of Mrs. Pelosi’s majority will back holding a vote on Friday. Given the narrow control Democrats hold over Congress, the speaker can only afford three defections before having to rely on GOP votes. 

At the moment, five Moderate Democrats have refused to sign on to the budget bill without knowing its full cost. They say that to secure their votes they will need an in-depth analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

“We’ve asked for certain CBO tables, we’re waiting on that and waiting for information we’re owed,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat. “Those are the kind of things that we think are really important to make sure we go through.”

The CBO, a nonpartisan federal agency responsible for analyzing the fiscal impact of legislation, is expected to take at least two weeks to properly vet the bill before releasing its findings.

Mrs. Pelosi plans to couple consideration of the spending bill with a vote on the administration’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal. The White House has long wanted to pass the latter, but far-left Democrats have refused.

The 98-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, in particular, has linked the passage of the social welfare bill to the infrastructure deal.

“What we said and we’ve said it consistently … is we want both bills to move forward together in the House,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the CPC.

House Democrats spent most of the week negotiating with each other over the size and scope of the social welfare legislation. Those deliberations resulted in a revised bill full of liberal priorities, like paid family leave, that Mr. Biden had already jettisoned after opposition from lawmakers in the Senate.

Any bill House Democrats pass is likely dead on arrival in the upper chamber. Because of the Senate’s 50-50 split, two moderate Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin III and Kyrsten Sinema, hold the balance of power.

Both lawmakers have expressed reservations about the spending bill in the past. It was only after Mr. Manchin’s opposition that the White House was forced to jettison its original paid family leave proposal.

The influence that Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema wield over the final product exists because Democrats are using budget reconciliation to pass the bill. Reconciliation allows some spending and tax measures to avert the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass via a simple majority of 51-votes.

“Whatever the House sends will have to be modified at least a little,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Democrat. “It will not be enacted as is. Everybody needs to sit with that and get comfortable with it.”

Progressives have long been wary of exactly such a fate. To prevent themselves from being muscled out of the debate, House progressives initially demanded that the Senate pass the reconciliation package first.

Far-left Democrats even attempted to use the infrastructure bill, which Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema helped negotiate, as leverage. For months, Ms. Jayapal and the CPC have threatened to tank any vote on infrastructure until the Senate sends a reconciliation bill their way.

Progressives caved on the threat after Mr. Biden appeared in person before House Democrats to plead for a vote on both bills. Mr. Biden has also assured far-left lawmakers that he can bring Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema on board at a later date.

“A long time ago, we were really pushing to have the Senate vote first but this process has gone on for so long,” Mrs. Jayapal said. “And the Senate process will take a while. … I believe that the president will get 51 votes in the Senate.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s name.

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